November 25, 2004

Group Using ‘Super Size Me’ to Bolster Bill Support

WASHINGTON: The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit advocacy group, has sent members of Congress free copies of the film Super Size Me to increase support for a nutrition bill.

"It really speaks to the heart of the American obesity epidemic," explained Howard White, the group's senior PR officer. "Even doctors didn't realize how deleterious the effects of fast food are."

PCRM, which promotes preventive medicine and nutrition, is not working with a PR agency.

One group has issued a response to the DVD distribution, saying that the film does not address personal responsibility in obesity.

"Super Size Me is a distortion of epic proportions," said Marshall Manson, vice president of public affairs for the Center for Individual Freedom, in a statement.

"[Director Morgan] Spurlock would like us to believe that his weight gain and poor health was McDonald's fault, when in reality, the only person Spurlock can blame is himself," he continued.

White defended the choice of the film and added that the marketing efforts by fast-food companies - especially toward children - make it harder for consumers to know what the best food choices are.

"The thing that really swayed us, if you watch the movie and watch how much money is placed in advertising ... it's not a level playing field," he said." You start a habit."

The bill, the Healthy Life-styles Act, would have the US Department of Agriculture replaced as the government body that sets nutrition policy. It calls for the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the independent Institute of Medicine, to set the country's dietary agenda.

PCRM and the bill's sponsors believe that the USDA cannot objectively set policy because of ties to the food industry.

Two-thirds of the country is overweight or obese.

'Super Size Me'... "a distortion," Manson says

Copyright Haymarket Business Publications Ltd. Nov 8, 2004