Why Movie Theater Popcorn Isn’t the Healthy Choice

The calories in movie popcorn servings will surprise you.

The government wants us to know the calories and other nutrition info of movie theater popcorn. According to the Los Angeles Times, “a provision in the federal healthcare law stipulates that restaurant chains with at least 20 U.S. locations must provide the calorie content of menu items,” and now the Food and Drug Administration says it intends to apply the provision to “concession stands, including those at theaters.”

You’ve probably gotten used to seeing those nutrition info posters at fast food restaurants that list the calories and fat content of burgers, shakes, and buckets of fried chicken. But will being confronted by the truth at the movie theater concession stand stop us from showering more butter on our already calorie-laden bucket of popcorn? Possibly—especially with the numbers below staring us in the face.

Shocking Numbers for Movie Theater Popcorn

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, the following are the staggering numbers for a large popcorn—without butter—at these national theaters:

Regal: 60 grams of saturated fat, 1,200 calories

AMC: 57 grams of saturated fat, 1,030 calories

Cinemark: 4 grams of fat, 910 calories (Cinemark pops its corn in canola oil)

Healthier Choices on the Horizon

Theater companies should take after AMC. While its popcorn may be a nutrition disaster, next month AMC theaters will start offering healthy choices at the snack stand. AMC’s new Smart MovieSnacks will include “fruit chips, popped corn chips, and trail mix.”

Considering that movie theaters “generate up to one-third of their revenue from selling popcorn, sodas and other snacks,” according to the Los Angeles Times, why not add healthy choices across the board? What about a big bucket of grapes for $10, or carrots and dip for $6? The theaters will never know until they try.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest