Popcorn at the movies still an unhealthy treat

November 23, 2009 by Lin Edwards, Medical Xpress weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- A study carried out in 1994 by advocacy group CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) found that popcorn being sold by cinema chains in the US was high in saturated fat and calories, and a new survey has found that not much has changed in the intervening years. The study found a medium serve of popcorn sold in US cinemas can contain up to 1,200 calories, and that's without the topping.

The new analysis, also carried out by CSPI, used an independent laboratory to test multiple samples of medium serves of popcorn (without topping) bought from the three largest movie chains in the US: Cinemark, AMC, and Regal Entertainment Group.

Cinemark's medium serve was around 14 cups and contained three grams of saturated fat and 760 . A medium serve (about nine cups) at AMC contained 33 grams saturated fat and 590 calories, but a medium serve from Regal (equivalent to 20 cups) contained 60 grams of saturated fat and 1,200 calories. Cinemark's popcorn is lower in saturated fat because the corn is popped using canola oil instead of the 90% coconut oil used by AMC and Regal. The buttery topping available for the popcorn would add approximately another 200 calories in each case.

The tests also showed the popcorn samples all contained too much salt, with sodium levels ranging from 210 mg in a small AMC popcorn, up to 1,500 mg in Cinemark's large tub, which represents the recommended for an entire day.

After the survey 15 years ago shocked moviegoers, some cinemas did offer lower calorie "air-popped" popcorn as an alternative, but it soon proved unpopular and customers demanded a return to the more traditional method of popping corn in oil.

Popcorn has always been a popular part of the movie experience, and a representative of Regal said popcorn is meant to be an occasional treat rather than daily fare. A medium serve of Regal's popcorn with the topping and a medium contains around 1,800 calories in all, which is equivalent to the calories in four slices of bacon, four sausages and six scrambled eggs with cheese. The current recommended daily calorie intake for adult women and men is 2,000 and 2,500 respectively.

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

Related Stories

Recommended for you

For-profit hospitals correlated with higher readmission rates

September 19, 2018
Patients who receive care in a for-profit hospital are more likely to be readmitted than those who receive care in nonprofit or public hospitals, according to a new study published by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers.

Sugar content of most supermarket yogurts well above recommended threshold

September 18, 2018
A comprehensive survey of ingredients in yogurts highlights high sugar levels in many—particularly organic yogurts and those marketed towards children.

Nearly half of resident physicians report burnout

September 18, 2018
Resident physician burnout in the U.S. is widespread, with the highest rates concentrated in certain specialties, according to research from Mayo Clinic, OHSU and collaborators. The findings appear on Tuesday, Sept. 18, in ...

Research confronts 'yucky' attitudes about genetically engineered foods

September 18, 2018
Is a non-browning apple less "natural" than non-fat milk? In one case, people have injected something into apple DNA to prevent it from turning brown after it's cut. In the other, people used technology to remove something ...

Your teen is underestimating the health risks of vaping

September 17, 2018
Teens today are more reluctant to smoke cigarettes than their counterparts nearly three decades ago, according to a study released this summer. But parents should hold their collective sigh of relief. The study, carried out ...

Thinking beyond yourself can make you more open to healthy lifestyle choices

September 17, 2018
Public health messages often tell people things they don't want to hear: Smokers should stop smoking. Sedentary people need to get moving. Trade your pizza and hot dogs for a salad with lean protein.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2009
the carbs are not the issue here -- air popped popcorn is regularly recommended for people goindg on a diet because it is so naturally low in calories by volume... popping it in oil and eating the same quantity is not for those who are watching thier weight... as stated the caloric intake is as much as the minimum a peson should eat in a day.

A case can be made that almost everything is good for you in some form of moderation-- here the issue is quantity over quality of life
not rated yet Nov 24, 2009
the carbs are not the issue here

Partially. The carbs in popcorn are 'empty' (i.e. they carry almost none of the other stuff we need to live, like essential vitamins and trace elements.) So you are getting your daily dose of energy but nothing else from it.

In order to get the rest you need to eat other foods which will have calories, too. So gorging on popcorn along with a normal diet will lead to overconsumption of calories (and result in obesity in the long run). Substituting popcorn for a normal diet will lead to malnutrition.

Chucking vitamin tablets along with popcorn is not going to help, since even though these contain the recommended amount of vitamins they contain them in a form the body cannot absorb.

Remember: nutrition is input MINUS OUTPUT. Vitamins you pass unprocessed (urine/faeces) have no value.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.