Movie popcorn can pack on the pounds

Nov. 19, 2009 at 2:37 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A medium popcorn and soda at the Regal movie theater chain has the calories of three McDonald's Quarter Pounders and 12 pats of butter, a U.S. food group says.

Jayne Hurley, a nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington said the study, published as the cover story in the December issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter, found the movie theater chain's medium popcorn and soda has 1,610 calories and three days' worth -- 60 grams -- of saturated fat. The study updates an expose the group conducted 15 years ago that first pointed out the calories in movie theater popcorn.

Regal said its medium popcorn has 720 calories and that its large has 960 calories, but center's lab tests found those numbers were understated, Hurley said.

Low-fat popcorn or fat-free, air-popped popcorn is a nutritious choice for a snack, Hurley said, but eating a tub of movie theater popcorn is more like eating an 8-ounce bag of potato chips. The buttery topping adds 130 calories to a small movie theater popcorn, 200 calories to a medium and 260 calories to a large, Hurley said

A small movie theater popcorn -- 11 cups' worth -- with no buttery topping has 34 grams of saturated fat and 670 calories,the center's study found.

The Web site of the National Association of Theater Owners says the average person attended the movies about four times in 2008 and a smaller percentage patronized the concessions stand.

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