Going to the movies may not seem complete without popcorn, soda or even some candy. But a new study should cause Americans to think twice before indulging.
A combo that includes a medium unbuttered popcorn and medium drink contains 60 grams of saturated fat and 1,600 calories, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's review. That's about the same as eating 36 strips of bacon and 8 pats of butter.
Nutritionists name the coconut oil used to pop the popcorn as the culprit saying it is the one of the worst things for people's hearts.
Fifteen years ago, theaters switched to lower fat popcorn in an attempt to make the snack more heart healthy.
However, since many customers disliked the less artery-clogging version, many theaters discreetly went back to popping corn in the tastier, more fattening coconut oil.
"Coconut oil is the worst thing movie theaters could be using to pop in because it is so bad for our hearts. It's 90 percent saturated, lard is 40 percent saturated," Jayne Hurley, a nutritionist for the Washington-based group, said.
The offending oil is currently used at theaters run by Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc., which have a total of 852 theaters throughout the country.
The CSPI study also noted that candy isn't much healthier than popcorn. A 4.8 ounce box of Junior Mints combined with a medium drink contains about 52 teaspoons of sugar.
"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," Hurley said.
However, Regal President and CEO Greg Dunn said most Americans view movie snacks as an occasional treat.
"Theater popcorn and movie snacks are viewed as a treat and not intended to be part of a regular diet," he said.