Knowledge and Psychosocial Effects of the Film Super Size Me on Young Adults

Ellen Cottone, Carol Byrd-Bredbenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The prevalence of overweight and obesity has risen dramatically over the past 2 decades. Among the many contributing factors is increased consumption of fast foods. Mass media outlets have cited the potential of the film Super Size Me to alter this behavior. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of this film on young adults' fast-food knowledge and psychosocial measures (ie, attitudes, self-efficacy, healthy weight locus of control, and stage of change) and evaluate the effectiveness of this film as a form of emotional arousal and consciousness-raising. A pretest-posttest follow-up control group design with random assignment was used. Young adults (n=135; 54% female) completed the pretest; approximately 10 days later viewed a film then completed the posttest; and about 9 days later completed the follow-up test. The experimental group (n=80) viewed Super Size Me. The control group (n=55) viewed an unrelated film. Unpaired t tests revealed that the study groups did not differ significantly (P>0.05) at pretest on any measure. Analysis of covariance, with pretest score as the covariate, revealed the experimental group scored substantially better than the control group at posttest on knowledge and nearly all psychosocial measures. In addition, the experimental group continued to score substantially higher than the control group at follow-up on knowledge, stage of change, and consciousness-raising and lower on external: chance health locus of control. Super Size Me represents a potentially powerful tool for nutrition education. Nutrition practitioners should consider using Super Size Me as a consciousness-raising and emotional arousal change process with patients in pre-action stages of change for reducing fast-food intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1197-1203
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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