Super Size Me
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Super Size Me is a documentary describing how a sudden change from a healthy, vegetable-based diet to a diet of unadulterated fast food will destroy your health. Its conclusions are about as reliable as that description might make them sound.
 The film
For thirty days, director and star Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but Mickey Dee's scrumptious offerings. His basic rules required that he try as many menu items as possible and that he always accept an offer to "Supersize it", but never supersize unless asked. In a short time, Spurlock gained a great deal of weight and became so unhealthy that his doctors advised him that he had to stop, or risk permanent damage. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight he gained during the one-month experiment.
The film relied on some aggressive showmanship to make its point. On the second day of the diet, Spurlock orders a super-sized double-quarter pounder with cheese meal. Within a few minutes of his meal, he vomits: the sheer amount of rich, fatty food is far too much for him to stomach as he tries to consume the huge burger, enormous fries, and cavernous soda. At a later point in the film, the filmmaker's girlfriend (a vegan chef), sadly reports that their sex life had suffered badly.
The film also deals with the subversive advertising campaigns of fast-food companies and how it encourages unhealthy eating for its own profit. It was nominated for an Academy Award.
Despite the rather commonsense approach that Spurlock took to make his point, his methodology was far from flawless.
Any scientist or rational person can explain that one experience doesn't provide sufficient evidence to make a point. Other individuals have made their own films to contradict Super Size Me; Soso Whaley ate at McDonald's for a month, but chose less unhealthy options and practiced portion control, losing eighteen pounds. Chazz Weaver, on the other hand, ate at McDonald's for a month but simultaneously engaged in an exercise program to avoid fat gains.
Unfortunately, such criticisms of the film generally miss the point. Certainly it was a dramatized and exaggerated approach to fast-food, because Spurlock wanted to make a documentary that was not just informative, but also entertaining and marketable. It's easily possible to eat a moderate diet of fast food and stay in some semblance of health, and even possible to indulge extravagantly if you mitigate the damage with exercise and portion control. But Super Size Me was a criticism of the seductive addiction that can develop to these large amounts of fat and sugar - by the end of the film, Spurlock craves his daily dose - and an illustration of how damaging are the diets of many Americans. Taking things only a bit further than a surprisingly large number of people, a relatively healthy man risked permanent liver damage within only a month.
The response of Penn & Teller on their show, Bullshit!, was marginally better. It essentially ceded much of the film's point, acknowledging that fast food is disastrously bad for consumers, but argued that for many families it remains the most easily-accessible and lowest-cost source of food.
Comedian Tom Naughton did an entire feature-length attack on Super Size Me with his film Fathead, an embittered and painfully unfunny refutation of numerous imaginary claims. Naughton argues that no one is forced to eat at McDonald's, and that too many people are labeled as "obese." In one memorable moment, Naughton discovers he has 31% body fat and that though he is 5'11" and only 206 lbs, he is nonetheless medically "obese," a fact he repeats with an air of disbelief, as though through sheer incredulity he can make it seem silly.
Interestingly enough, while McDonald's denied and downplayed much of the impact of the film and Spurlock's assertions, changes occurred at the restaurant level that appeared to be a response. Within several months of this film's release, the "supersize" option was removed from the menu. Within several years, McDonald's began to regularly offer and advertise more healthy options, such as apple dippers, 2% milk, salads that actually taste good, and snack wraps (a lower-calorie alternative to a full-fledged sandwich).