Filmmaker Puts the Big Bite on McDonald's

05/03/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

By putting the fast-food chain's feet to the fryer, Morgan Spurlock is to McDonald's what fellow documentary maker Michael Moore has been to General Motors and the National Rifle Association: a big, fat pain in the … neck.

Spurlock is the man behind Super Size Me, which won the director's prize at January's Sundance Film Festival and which opens nationally on Friday. Putting his movie where his mouth is, Spurlock, 33, went on a one-month McDonald's binge, eating only from its menu. As has been widely reported, his health rapidly deteriorated as a direct result.

Spurlock also accuses the chain of appealing to young children and getting them addicted to its high-fat, sugary, salty menu.

"We're bombarding them with these messages from such a young age," Spurlock, who produced MTV's reality show I Bet You Would, tells The New York Times about fast-food commercials aimed at youngsters.

"If you ask them their favorite restaurant, they'll say McDonald's. They know the clown by name. But you never see the clown eat the food," Spurlock adds. "So what does that mean? Why is he so tall and skinny?"

As for Spurlock's health, he said: "I was completely depressed, tired, lethargic."

He developed headaches that only went away with another McDonald's meal, his blood pressure zoomed and he gained nearly 25 pounds. The film also shows some all-too-graphic visits to the doctor.

But what Spurlock didn't get was a response from McDonald's -- except for a minor, backhanded acknowledgement when the chain announced that it was introducing supposedly healthier meals and abolishing Super Size meals -- after the government's report that America was suffering from an obesity epidemic.

McDonald's insisted its move had nothing to do with Spurlock's movie, which it claimed not to have seen in any event.

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