Your Waistline and the Movies

Hooray for Hollywood. On Tuesday, January 25th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced their nominees for the 83rd annual Academy Awards. As a huge movie fan, the Oscars are like my Super Bowl, World Series and my Wimbledon all rolled up with a great red carpet.

But why do I bring up the Oscars? Two reasons.

First, I think about the stars and weight. For example, Mo’nique. She looked radiant (especially at 5:30 AM Hollywood time) announcing the nominees. She is an example of how an actor has lost weight and forged a higher-profile image for herself. Is that bad? Certainly not, but I do wonder why the culture of Hollywood says lose weight and be rail thin (but not too emaciated since that is also bad) when most of the movie-going audience (us) are real people with realistic weights and weight issues. People come in all shapes and sizes. Sure, these stars are the ones we adore and idolize but they come in all shapes and sizes, too. It shouldn’t just be the thin ones that dominate our screens.

Second, this is the second year the Academy has nominated 10 films for Best Picture. Yikes! Like an athlete preparing for the “big game,” I try to see at least all the best picture nominees. However, don’t movie theater chains know how much buttered popcorn and candy that amounts to? (Especially when I have so many movies to see before this year’s award ceremony!)

But hold on before you order another bucket of golden goodness. Just 1 popcorn and soda combo can match the calorie and saturated fat count of 3 quarter pounders and 12 pats of butter, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) review of popcorn sold at 3 national movie chains.

Because of the coconut oil used to pop the corn, CSPI found that the 20-cup tub of popcorn at the theaters packs 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat, which accounts for 3 days worth of saturated fat. An 11-cup (small) bucket has 670 calories and 34 grams of saturated fat. And those numbers don’t account for the “buttery” topping, every tablespoon of which adds another 130 calories. A 16-cup bucket sold at AMC theaters (including the one down the road from yours truly) contains 1,030 calories and 57 grams of fat, according to CSPI. A third Texas-based theater chain had far lower saturated fat counts because they pop in heart-healthy canola oil. Seventeen-cup buckets at this chain have 910 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat.

Time for some math. So far I have already seen 8 of the 10 nominees for Best Picture. If I had a medium-sized popcorn each time I saw one of those 8 I packed on – get ready – almost 10,000 calories; 8,240 of which from the popcorn alone and 1,760 from all the buttery topping I get. Let me put it to you another way – given my size and weight I should be eating roughly 2,000 calories a day. So those 8 trips to the concession counter equals 8 days of food! Breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Look, I know I’m human and I will, from time to seriously occasional time, get popcorn because it’s good, but think seriously about these stats the next time you go. Also, I might even have a slice of pizza while watching Christian Bale win Best Supporting Actor for “The Fighter,” but we are all fighters in this weight-loss game. Don’t lose sight of that. We may not look like stars but all of us on this weight loss journey are beautiful and have the same amount of drive. We just use it to keep losing and maintaining weight. And that, my friends, is what it means to have True Grit.