There's nothing like going to the movie theater and paying for a box of movie snacks that cost as much as dinner for two at a restaurant; it's just part of the movie theater experience. Unfortunately, the high prices of movie snacks aren't the only problem - most of these foods being offered at the concession stand are loaded with sugar, saturated fat and calories. If you were ever curious about how many calories you consume whenever you head to the theater to catch a flick, let this list of the 5 worst movie snacks give you an idea:
1. Buttered Popcorn
Have you ever wondered what the total calories were in a medium or large bag of popcorn? Studies and surveys have shown that a whopping 1,200 calories can be found on average in a large bag of popcorn from major movie theater chains. To top it off as one of the worst movie snack foods, adding pumps of butter can easily bump that 1,200 closer to 1,500 calories. That's ridiculously close to the 2,000 calories recommended for the average person, just from a bag of popcorn!
To make matters worse, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found 60 grams of saturated fat in one movie chain's medium bag of popcorn, which is roughly three days' worth of saturated fat in something that isn't even considered a meal. The center attributed the high saturated fat content to the coconut oil being used to cook the popcorn. Stacked with the butter, salt and high calorie content, a bag of popcorn can bring you one step closer to a heart attack or stroke.
2. Nachos with Cheese
Many movie theaters offer larger snack items that can be looked at as meal alternatives for those looking for something heavier to munch on. The problem is most of these foods have no real nutritional value, and are only being sold to make a profit. Movie nachos are a prime example of just how bad movie snacks can be. With generic chips and a molten, yellow liquid that is supposed to pass for cheese, you can expect to find close to 1400 calories in one serving. Add a soda, and maybe a small bag of popcorn or candy, and you've got a day's worth of calories just from one trip to the movies. That definitely crosses nachos with cheese off of the healthy movie snacks list.
3. Reese's Pieces
Many people love the delectable, chocolate covered peanut butter with the candy coated shell that makes up a bag of Reese's Pieces, but that little bag of candy has enough calories to make up an entire meal. In the same study as the calorie content of movie popcorn, CSPI found that eating an eight ounce bag of Reese's Pieces was equivalent to eating a 16 ounce steak with a baked potato on the side. Wouldn't you rather enjoy the steak and potato instead of a little bag of candy?
4. Hot Dog
The hot dog is quite common at just about every entertainment venue, from the ballpark to the movie theater. They require little to no cooking experience to make and only require two ingredients: a hot dog and the bun. Out of all the movie snacks available at most theaters, hot dogs are the only real substitute for a meal as they offer protein and aren't entirely based on carbs. While the calories aren't as bad as you would think after reading this list (movie hot dogs average about 300 to 600 calories on average), it's the lack of healthy options that make them such a bad choice for a movie snack. Most theaters only offer one size, with one type of bun and one type of meat. There's no whole grain bun or vegetarian hot dog to choose from. Plus, there's still a chance that the hot dog contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can increase a person's risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
5. Large Soda
A large soda is the most common beverage at the movie theater, and has just as many calories as a small meal at roughly 500. The 132 grams of sugar are no laughing matter either. While most people are well aware of the health risks associated with this sugary, calorie-filled beverage, it remains a mystery why so many are willing to partake in a movie theater setting. Again, it is a part of the phenomenon of the movie theater experience, the same as shoveling loads of popcorn into your mouth, even when you're full.