Noted Fast Food Documentary Filmmaker Dies at 53

( – Morgan Spurlock, who produced the 2004 Super Size Me documentary, has died at age 53. The filmmaker, who devoted his work to studying and documenting the American diet, succumbed to cancer and related complications. His family issued a statement saying, “The world has lost a true creative genius and a special man.” Spurlock’s ground-breaking documentary recorded his journey as he ate only McDonald’s food for thirty days. In the end, his cholesterol had skyrocketed, his libido disappeared, and he had gained 25 pounds.

The McDonald’s diet furthermore caused Mr. Spurlock to descend into depression, and tests showed liver dysfunction comparable to alcohol binging. However, when it later emerged that Spurlock was a heavy drinker and confessed he had not been for more than 30 years, commentators questioned his conclusions on the physical impact of a McDonald’s diet.

The film’s production cost $65,000 and made $22 million at the box office.

In 2006, Swedish students replicated the experiment. They found very little liver damage, and in 2017, Spurlock admitted that his questionable liver test results were attributable to alcohol rather than McDonald’s fast food.

When the MeToo movement began, Mr. Spurlock confessed on social media that he had once been accused of rape and sexual harassment. He called himself “part of the problem” and said his heavy drinking had caused him to conduct himself dishonorably, including being unfaithful during his three marriages.

Born in West Virginia, his mother was an English teacher, and his father owned an auto repair shop. Throughout his career, Spurlock created more than 70 documentaries and won an Oscar nomination for Super Size Me. Its follow-up, Super Size Me 2 – Holy Chicken! came in 2017 and is credited with advancing calls for healthier options from some of America’s biggest fast food chains. The film focused on adverts that claimed outlets had developed less fattening menus, but Spurlock called this into question and presented it as a branding scam.

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