Analysis of the film "Super Size Me" Under the Perspective of Health Psychology


After several demands knowledge of American girls to McDonald's, Morgan Spurlock directs and stars in a film that reflects on fast food and cheap, but very dangerous and bad for health.

Through an experiment conducted by Morgan, which is that their diet consists, for 30 continuous days, solely from the food offered this chain, aims to demonstrate that such diets are a risk behaviors to health has severe consequences for it.

Two risk behaviors: behaviors that lead to an increase in a chance of getting a particular disease, whether physical or psychological.

Ø Mc Donald's Diet: Base your diet exclusively in this type of fast food

Or continue with the experiment despite being sick

Two health behaviors:

Ø Case Institute of Appleton Central Alternative. Natural Diet Owens.

Ø The case of newyorquino: Walk instead use transport

According to the different explanatory theoretical models that form the structure of analysis of health psychology, there are various reasons that people put into practice certain health behaviors or risk.

Some models are based on the assumption that attitudes and beliefs are the main determinants of behavior-Models and Theories Expectancy-Value Health Beliefs, Theory of reasoned action and planned behavior, and protective motivation theory. These models are based on two types of cognitions: subjective probability that a behavior will lead to obtaining the expected results and evaluating the results of the action.

On the other hand, those theoretical models that emphasize self-regulation: the perception of personal efficacy to perform an action that generates expectations that allow us to anticipate the expected results, the mechanism by which the body will regulate itself. Speakers mechanisms such as persuasion, social comparison or modeling-models and theories of self-regulation of behavior: model of precaution adoption process, a process of action for health and social action theory.


1. McDonald's Diet: base your diet solely on this type of fast food

The protagonist of the film, despite being shown by different studies and to believe or strongly suspect that performing a diet based on products offered by fast food companies is an unhealthy behavior, decides to conduct an experiment, putting the importance of the outcome is going to get, to demonstrate empirically that their hypothesis is true, to your health.

The conduct of basing your diet on fast food chain McDonald's is a risk behavior.

It is clearly a risk behavior and because, as we see throughout the documentary, Morgan consulted various specialists and they'll confirm him showing all the consequences that may result in this type of diet, such as hypertension, liver problems , elevated triglycerides, heart disease, weight gain, increased cholesterol, malaise, stroke, gallbladder disease, adult diabetes, insulin resistance, decreased fertility, etc.. Nevertheless, he decides to perform the behavior and feeding for 30 days exclusively with this type of food. The level of repetition of behavior tends to raise, significantly, the level of risk associated.

The susceptibility of the protagonist (Model of health beliefs), of coronary disease because of their behavior is very low. Morgan makes an underestimation of risk involved in this conduct to overestimate their health and physical strength, when the start of the experiment.

As discussed, visiting several doctors specializing in General Medicine, Cardiology, Endocrinology and Nutrition to conduct a control before, during and after (a fact that could be considered a particular health behavior, should it cease its attitude and follow the guidelines and recommendations of your doctor).

And since the results obtained are in good physical health, their self-perception is strong and healthy person and this takes precedence over the warnings that undertaken by different doctors.

Consider that your body (perceived self-efficacy) may counteract the effects of an unhealthy diet. Not perceived as a certain probability of being affected by the consequences of such diets and therefore does not cease his experiment. As there is a low gravity and low susceptibility of contracting any of the diseases cited above, the protagonist needs a key to be intense action to stop behaviors. The most important event that will trigger this action is warning doctors about the consequences and the perception that, as the days pass, the public health indices in the controls will get worse. This could touch off at a given moment the process of appropriate health behavior.

Moreover, in this risky behavior, we can clearly see how Morgan's behavior is under volitional control (Theory of Reasoned Action, to influence personal and social factors). The player acts on his intention to carry out the experiment and not on the consequences of his conduct, despite all the warning and informational stimuli it receives.

At Morgan influence, therefore, to perform the behavior, perceptions of risk to the possible consequences of their behavior, their willingness to perform this behavior, outcome expectations and perceived self-efficacy.

Another case, similar to Morgan but that is not an experiment but a pattern is the case of Don Gorska, usually eat an average of 2 / 3 Big Mac (a type of hamburger that McDonald's offers) per day, making that 90% of their solid diet is based on this type of food. It is a clear case of conduct of health risk.

2. Continue with the experiment despite being sick

From day 18 of experiment, Morgan began to feel increasingly worse.

In the control of that week, Dr. Dary M. Isaacs makes the usual checks and the results are not good. Cholesterol levels reveal much higher, the liver is inflamed, is turning into a fatty liver. The levels generally are rising alarmingly. This causes fatigue, lethargy, depression, etc.. The doctor warns him that can have liver failure and may be irreversible.

His advice as a physician immediately abandon the experiment because it is causing a disease itself. The doctor expressed his despair at not being able to convince it to abandon its risk attitude: "... my advice as a doctor is you have to leave, you're crushing the liver ... if the pain begins to radiate to the jaw and arm, is an immediate threat of death and ...".( Dary M. Isaacs - General Medicine).

Around him, his mother, his girlfriend, also advised him to stop the diet. The consequences of an unhealthy diet are already popping up: "... I could not imagine that this experiment would be so dangerous girlfriend ..."( Morgan)" ... I know, the doctor did not imagine that something could happen. .. "(Morgan).

Morgan, despite evidence that their social environment (the team doctor and his family) he is showing very clearly the signs (high levels in the analysis) and symptoms (malaise and depression) that have emerged are sufficiently significant as to begin immediate health behavior, which would be the immediate abandonment of the diet and the beginning of a cleansing diet not sufficiently appreciate the threat and, again, provides an assessment of their skills (perceived self-efficacy) , which is the overvaluation of physical strength. Morgan decides to continue the experiment with the justification that in 12 days you are not sick as much as possible to avoid irreversible. We are clearly at risk behavior.

Referring to Bishop model, whereby all individuals are going to take an active role with respect to adopting an attitude of responsibility for decisions about their health, promoting the adoption of these personal responsibilities in the case of the behavior of Morgan to continue with the experiment even though his health is beginning to be seriously affected, argue that Bishop is a clear irresponsibility of the individual with respect to their health. Morgan has taken an active role in regard to their health but against it rather than promote it.

Health Behavior

1. Case Institute of Appleton Central Alternative. Natural Diet Owens

In this case, the Central Institute Alternative Appleton, whose students have behavior problems and major faults of class attendance.

Greg Brethawer, Dean of the Institute, to try to alleviate these problems, instead of using an iron discipline decides to intervene by applying a healthy diet program and it comes in contact with the company "Natural Owens" of Manitovic (Wisconsin).

This company supports food preparation healthy food without preservatives or dyes, whose method of preparation is cooking in the oven, and are not used in any fried foods.

Another strategy that the institute is launching the institute is removal of vending machines, candy, etc..

A few months later, they have begun to see the results of this health behavior in significant improvements in students of the institution in regard to good behavior, children are more focused, the teachers indicate better performance of their students, and There's less violence in the classroom.

This behavior can be considered as health carries out actions in favor of obtaining a healthy state. Here we would apply the model perfectly Bishop, in the sense of taking an active role by adopting a pattern of conduct with regard to food that promotes a healthy state.

Moreover, the decision taken by the school head will influence the students repeat this pattern of conduct in their personal environment, with a high probability that these students develop a healthy lifestyle, having experienced the positive consequences that flow from it, reducing the risk factors of contracting diseases such as obesity, which is also one of the first consequences of an unbalanced diet.

2. The case of newyorquino: Walk instead of using transport

60% of Americans do not exercise regularly. There have been studies that have confirmed this, having shown that the average daily steps of an American is between 2500-3000 steps per day (1.6 mi.). People come and go drive to work, take the car for shopping, for taking the kids to school, etc..

The case of newyorquinos is different. Most of them will walk everywhere: to work, park, shop, etc.. Do not have a car or, if they do, prefer not to because the big city. They perform an average of 7 / 8 kms. a day walking.

It is, in my opinion, clear health behavior, since there is widespread evidence that physical exercise is necessary for good overall health, and if you can not perform regular exercise-such as swimming, cycling or any sport, there is nothing better than walking, which can be a perfect substitute.

As in the previous case, the individual is taking an active role towards their health, perhaps this time influenced by other factors, such as it is a bit problematic to use the car in New York, congestion, lack of parking, etc., but after all, is a behavior that promotes the good health and can offset other behaviors that are not as healthy as we have seen in the documentary, since the vast majority of the citizens Americans are very frequent to include in your diet and fast food too often.