Popcorn at the movies still an unhealthy treat

Nov 23, 2009 by Lin Edwards weblog
popcorn

(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

Explore further: Health care organizations see value of telemedicine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Trans fat ban: Watch saturated fats and calories too

Dec 22, 2006

In December, New York City passed a law to phase out the use of trans fat in restaurants. Other cities, including Boston and Chicago, might follow suit. According to Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, Gershoff professor of nutrition ...

The chemistry of popcorn: It's all about 'pop-ability'

Apr 14, 2005

If you took a survey of life’s small annoyances, surely those unpopped kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bag would rank high on the list. But perhaps not for long. “We think the secret to maximizing ‘ ...

Lung disease linked to flavoring chemical

May 07, 2007

Politicians and health workers in the United States are pushing for a bill to ban the use of a food flavoring chemical that has been linked to lung disease.

Recommended for you

Health care organizations see value of telemedicine

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Health care organizations are developing and implementing telemedicine programs, although many have yet to receive reimbursement, according to a report published by Foley & Lardner.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

marjon
2.5 / 5 (2) Nov 23, 2009
What is really unhealthy about popcorn is the popcorn itself, all carbohydrates.
Coconut oil, with medium chain fatty acids, is good for you.
El_Nose
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
marjon
not rated yet Nov 24, 2009
I have always wondered what is in it for CSPI, publicity?
They seem like such smug busy bodies scraping the sauce off lo mien noodles and saying it it is bad for you.
After I read Potein Power and Metabolic Typing, I think those who promote low fat, high carb diets for all are dangerous.
Some fat is very good for you. Fat from grass fed beef and wild game is excellent as is coconut oil. Sugar, corn, wheat, trans-fat... not so good.
BTW, humans do not need to eat carbohydrates to survive. However, we do need protein and fat.
antialias
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.
marjon
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.


It is not just calories, it is the insulin response triggered by the sugar. those crossing the arctic eat pure butter for energy. Inuit eat pure fat.

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.