Movie popcorn under fire from "Food Police"

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by KRISTEN DAHLGREN / NBC

KING5.com

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

The weekend is almost here and many of you may head to the theater to check out the latest movie release.

But if popcorn is part of your plan listen up.

The so-called "food police" - the Center for Science in the Public Interest - once again has movie concessions in its crosshairs and it wants you to know just how many calories are in those theater treats.

The group says you may be busting your seams if you hit the concession stand.

Dr. Gregory Plemmons of Vanderbilt University said "They don't call them tubs for nothing. I mean a tub of popcorn is about a thousand calories."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently checked out the fat and calorie content at the nation's three largest theater chains.

CPSI’s Jane Hurley outlined the findings “Regal and AMC - the two largest chains - are popping in the worst possible oil: coconut oil. Coconut oil is 90% saturated. Lard is 40% saturated. The third largest chain, Cinemark, is popping in a heart healthy oil- they're using non-hydrogenated canola oil."

But that doesn't mean it's good for you, in fact the CSPI claims large popcorns from all three chains were between 910 and 1,200 calories. And that's before that buttery topping.

A large soda could add 500 calories.

And with theaters stocking oversized candy, some of these could add between 300 and 1,100 calories.

Cinemark and Regal were the only theaters to respond to interview requests - and in statements, both said they offer healthier alternatives, but that snack options are driven by patron demand.

The National Association of Theater Owners agreed, pointing out many theaters tried to change to air-popped popcorn after a similar report 15 years ago.

But movie goers -quote- made their voices heard and wanted the traditional popcorn back.

Nutrition experts say there really aren't any healthy alternatives to theater snacks but suggest sharing a tub of popcorn between two of three people.
 

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