Next Friday Capitol Hill will be the site of a unholy union, as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and “Super Size Me” film-maker Morgan Spurlock give lawmakers “the inside scoop” on obesity, the so-called “Cheeseburger Bill,” and “personal vs. corporate responsibility.” What should our nation’s leaders expect? According to a flyer promoting the event, the man who gorged himself on more than 5,000 calories a day eating only at McDonald’s for a month and PCRM (the medical front group for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) will offer up a whopper about “addiction to unhealthy foods.” Memo to Congress: It’s time to order up some Super Sized skepticism.
It’s not surprising that PCRM’s magazine gave Spurlock’s movie “two carrots up” for pushing the absurd notion of “the addictive nature of many unhealthy foods.” After all, the flick features only one doctor who believes food is addictive: PCRM president Neal Barnard. PCRM hawked Barnard’s latest animal-rights propaganda by proclaiming “New Book Shows Food Really Is Physically Addictive; Chocolate, Cheese, Meat, and Sugar Act Like Drugs.” Barnard’s book makes the case that “it’s high time we stopped blaming ourselves” for our eating habits, and supposedly “provides new ammunition for fast-food lawsuits.”
Fast food lawsuits are the perfect cover for PCRM’s anti-meat agenda. As early as 1999, the group recommended that the Justice Department “begin preparing a case against major meat producers and retailers.” Later PCRM applauded a lawsuit that “holds four fast-food chains responsible for an obese man’s health problems.” And when another lawsuit blaming McDonald’s for the weight problems of children was filed in 2002, Barnard’s name appeared four times in the plaintiff’s complaint.
Spurlock makes full use of Barnard’s addiction claims in “Super Size Me.” While showing footage of Ronald McDonald, the movie’s soundtrack plays Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusher Man.” Discussing his all-McDonald’s diet, Spurlock complained: “I definitely went through serious withdrawal symptoms,” including headaches, sweats, and shakes. But at the end of his 30-day escapade, Spurlock rejoiced that he was no longer forced to continue his ridiculous diet. “I can’t believe that today I’m going to get up and not have to eat at McDonald’s,” he said. If Spurlock were addicted, as “withdrawal symptoms” would indicate, how could he change his diet so easily?
PCRM isn’t the only animal rights group attempting to ride Spurlock’s anti-fast food coattails. The Farm Animal Reform Movement’s Susan Wieland told attendees of last weekend’s Animal Rights 2004 conference: “We’re beginning to discuss how to work with Morgan Spurlock of ‘Super Size Me’ to get into the schools.”