Group sees fat as villain in popcorn at theaters


November 25, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. — —

Forget the apocalyptic earthquakes and alien abductions on the screen; the real movie horror is the fat-saturated popcorn sold by some theater chains, a nutrition advocacy group says.

Just one popcorn-and-soda combo can match the calorie-and-saturated-fat count of three McDonald's Quarter Pounders and 12 pats of butter, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's review of popcorn sold at three national movie chains.

"A lot of people think they're better off at the popcorn counter than at the candy counter, when in fact you're not in good shape if you go to either," said Jayne Hurley, nutritionist for the Washington-based group. "The popcorn has staggering amounts of saturated fats."

Hurley blamed the high saturated fat count on the coconut oil used to pop the corn at theaters run by Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc., which have a combined 852 theaters.

Regal and AMC both said they tested more healthful alternatives after a similar 1994 analysis by CSPI, but they were unpopular with customers. Both chains said they offer a range of food options, some more healthful than others.

CSPI found that the 20-cup tub of popcorn at Regal theaters packs 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat, which Hurley said accounts for three days' worth of saturated fat. A 16-cup bucket sold at AMC theaters contains 1,030 calories and 57 grams of fat, according to CSPI.

- Associated Press

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