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Movie Lines vs. Waistlines

Beware of not-so-hidden calories at the movie theater this summer!

Seeing the latest summer blockbusters are among America's favorite activities to stay cool.  What's not to love? The big screen, air conditioning, and that large tub of buttery popcorn!   

But before you sit down to enjoy the show; did you know that even a small buttered popcorn from the movie theater may contain roughly 420-670 calories (See the attached document.)  

This small, unassuming bag may contain two to 34 grams of saturated fat – depending upon the oil used (if you add the butter-flavored topping – the numbers keep going up). Saturated fat is a major contributing factor in clogging your arteries which leads to heart disease.

Let's be honest here; who really gets a small popcorn when they go to the movies? You can increase the size to jumbo – for an extra 50 cents, you can add over 1000 calories - what a bargain to add to your waistline! 

Have a sweet tooth? Add some candy for 500 calories, and perhaps 350 calories for the soda, slushy or sweetened iced tea.   

Consider that a small cheeseburger at McDonalds has 300 calories, a Starbucks 16 oz Java Chip Frappuccino has 460 calories. 

An adult female may only need 1600-1800 calories per day.  And you thought you wanted to see a blockbuster movie, not a blockbuster waistline! 

It is easy to consume all of those calories over the course of 90 to 120 minutes – it’s called mindless eating.

So, what's the solution?  First, eat a healthy and filling meal before going to a movie.  For many people – they have become “conditioned” to eat at a movie theatre – regardless of real hunger.  If eating beforehand isn't an option and you absolutely must nosh while you watch, here are some waist- and heart-friendly alternatives:

1. If popcorn is truly your favorite movie-time treat, then opt for the kid-size bag and skip the butter.

2. Drink water instead of soda. Even a diet soda, while not containing any calories, is full of harmful artificial sweeteners.

3. As far as sweet snacks go, if you cannot resist the urge to eat the entire package of candy – then stay away from the higher calorie Dots, M&Ms and Skittles (all ranging from 750-800 calories) and stick with Sno Caps, Junior Mints, Gummy Bears or Raisinetes (300-400 calories).

4. A large soft pretzel may not be as innocent at it seems… consider sharing it (versus eating the whole thing yourself) and use mustard as a condiment.  Definitely go for the plain version.  Half of a soft pretzel is ~ 250-300 calories.

5. Many movie theaters now carry healthier snacks as part of their concession stand choices: granola bars, fruit chips, and small bags of pretzels are all better options than traditional movie snacks.

6. When in doubt, just sneak in your own snacks.  I should not be encouraging this – but until movie theaters take more care in providing healthier options (and movies aren’t cheap anymore), bring your own piece of fruit, pretzels, or a granola bar. 

Going to the movies should be fun and you should be able to snack without guilt.  Ironically, with all the new food labeling information – movie theaters should be held accountable for disclosing nutrition information for the foods and beverages that they serve. 

Special thanks to Valery Kallen for her contribution to this blog.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

William H. Bonnie October 11, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Not only are artificial sweeteners not harmful - they are the only way you are going to get some of these fat people to lose some weight - if they drink a 64 oz diet coke rather than a regular one.
Felicia Stoler October 11, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Thanks William, but there is some emerging research showing that non-nutritive sweeteners MAY be harmful. They are harmful in that they do not provide satiety and many people who consume them over eat. There is new data that came out today looking at diet soda consumption dramatically increasing... funny thing, our waistlines have not. Sugar consumption is down. At the end of the day - it's about calories in vs. calories out. I've been in this business for a long time and have yet to meet someone who lost weight from switching to diet products (aka artificial sweeteners).
William H. Bonnie October 11, 2012 at 07:33 PM
"2. Drink water instead of soda. Even a diet soda, while not containing any calories, is full of harmful artificial sweeteners" Maybe you should have said: 2. Drink water instead of soda. Even a diet soda, while not containing any calories, contains artificial sweeteners which may be harmful but then again they may not. You seem concerned about satiety, water does not provide satiety either, at least not anymore that a diet soda. Diet soda is only water with some artificial sweeteners and coloring. Do you have any (scientific - not anecdotal) evidence that provides a direct causal connection between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and over eating? It is also quite a jump to think that just because diet soda consumption is increasing and our waistlines are not decreasing means that diet soda should be shunned. Just as you say - it is all about calories in vs. calories out, right? So based on your own logic, diet soda = zero calories - how can that be causing bigger waistlines. Or wait - are you advocating both sides of the argument - the satiety quotient of what you consume also matters? I am very surprised that someone who has been in this business for such a long time seems to be contradicting herself in the same paragraph.
Shoregal October 11, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Every time I go to the movies I am amazed to see the quantity of food people bring in for a 2 hr movie! I can't help but wonder if this is how they eat at home watching TV. It's no wonder America has an obesity epidemic.
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