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Bringing healthy foods to the movies

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Soon maybe gone the days of oversized, extra-buttery popcorns, 64 ounce sodas, and king sized candy bars at the movie theater snack bar.

Worried about the increasing size of movie theater patrons - and not just because building bigger seats costs more money - Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton has suggested replacing unhealthy movie theater snacks with more body friendly options, such as yogurt, fruit salad, vegetable crudités and granola bars. However, this doesn't mean that Lynton wants to take the old-fashioned snacks away for good.

"I don't mean close the window for popcorn, soda and candy." Lynton stated.  "Audiences love them and should always be able to buy them at your theaters.

Lynton admits that he doesn't think movie-goers will slow down any time soon when it comes to snack food consumption. In fact, popcorn has been the number one food consumed my movie-goers since the early 1900s and shows no sign of slowing down. Tim Smith, the chief executive of the Food Standards Agency in the UK, said that it was time that calorie and nutrition information be put on those tubs of buttery popcorn and large sodas so that movie-goers might get an inkling of what exactly they are putting into their bodies while they watch the next big blockbuster. If that doesn't do the trick, Smith is also for reducing the portion sizes offered at theaters, which seems to have gotten ridiculously out of control.

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Lynton and Smith aren't the only ones pushing for healthy reform at the movie snack counter. Former President Bill Clinton and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with Lynton, are all part of the same organization called the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an anti-obesity task force. The group wants to meet with theater owners to give advice on cost effective and simple ways to change their snack offerings to be more healthy conscious. They hope facts such as these will help pressure theater owners into creating healthier options:

  • two-thirds of moviegoers and three-quarters of parents are more likely to buy healthy snacks at theaters if they are offered
  • 42 percent of parents said they would buy concessions more often if healthy options were available
  • 60 percent of parents said having healthier snacks in theaters would enhance their overall moviegoing experience

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With movies like Food Inc. causing major stirs, it seems that at least some movie-goers are becoming more conscious of what they consume, both in and out of the theater. Increasingly, a trend has begun of those who want healthier options at the theater, particuarly those on diets, sneaking in their own foods to the theater, which causes the theater to loose money.

Many sites offer advice on how to make healthy choices while going to the movies or how to stick to a diet while at the movies. There is also advice on eating smarter at the movies. Even releasing basic facts about movie theater snacks is a way that movie-goers are picking an apple out of the fridge before going to the theater instead. In fact, a recent survey showed that Regal Cinemas offered a popcorn that was 1,200 calories and a soda that was 400 calories.

Many movie-goers agree that they would buy healthier snacks, if they were offered to them. It might be a while before they install a salad bar next to the ticket taker, here is some advice from WebMD about the content of foods at the movies and what you can do to eat healthier while at the theater.


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