Fighting Obesity: Hollywood isn’t Helping

The obesity epidemic has been the subject of our last few posts. On Friday we almost wept reading disheartening stats on obesity growth across the 50 states. Over the weekend we looked at the raging epidemic from a food industry perspective and through the eyes of the restaurant industry.

Today, a look at tie-ins between junk food and the movie industry. As you are well aware, for years brands have used star power to promote sales. And nowhere is this custom more rampant than children’s foods. Happy Meals, Superhero cereals, and Dora branded yogurts are just a few examples of star power plastered on products that are usually high in sugar/fat/sodium and low in nutritional value.

The Hollywood / junk-food relationship works in another way, too – product placement. Ever notice how conspicuously some brands appear in movie scenes?

These brand-star relationships have been around for ages, but it seems like their frequency has increased in the past ten years as Hollywood tries to make as much money off of movies as it can.

So why should we care? It’s good business after all.

We’ll explain by example:

Many boys (and girls) are excited to see the new Captain America movie coming out later this month. And some of them are even more excited about the chance to slurp a Captain America Cherry Coolatta the next time dad or mom go on a coffee run to Dunkin Donuts.

The problem is that the said product is a nutritional nightmare. But parents will be rendered helpless as kids demand their Captain America branded drink.

INGREDIENTS: Frozen Neutral Base [Water, Neutral Base (Sugar, Glucose, Fructose, Silicon Dioxide, Malic Acid, Xanthan Gum)], Sour Cherry Coolatta Concentrate [Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Colors (Red 40 and Blue 1), Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives)].

A medium sized cup has 91 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 23 teaspoons!!! They are the sole source of all 360 calories in this drink. There is nothing natural here either. The cherry flavor is added, as is the bright red color, a mix of Red #40 and Blue #1. These artificial colors have been linked to hyperactivity in kids and are potential carcinogens. Sodium benzoate is another preservative that does your body no good.

A wonderful “treat” no doubt. By the way, the movie cinemas are no better with their offerings either. Try to get something healthy at the outrageously priced kiosks. And to add insult to injury, they are not allowing educational advertisements to air before the movies:

Regal Cinemas refused to run a paid advertisement revealing the amount of sugar in soda pop. The Multnomah County Health Department had tried to purchase screen time for the ad as part of its effort to encourage healthier beverage options.

The ad shows that drinking a 20-ounce regular soda is equivalent to eating 16 packets of sugar (the packets of sugar you find in restaurants). It appears that Regal does not want you to know this information. more from the Portland Tribune…

Thank you movie business people,  for doing your part to battle obesity…

(h/t to Yoni Freedhoff, Daniel Bowman Simon)

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  • Chuck Aflitto

    We should care! We are consistently being hammered with junk food ads. Unhealthy advertising adds to obesity, we don’t need that here in America…
    I thank you for sharing :)

  • Tiff Anne


  • Thomas Leen

    I disagree that “But parents will be rendered helpless as kids demand their Captain
    America branded drink”, sure the branding is another item that is going to make things more difficult for the parent, but it still should not put the child in charge of the situation. The parent is the authority over their child’s nutrition, not Yum Brands.

  • fit_vs_fiction

    I gotta tell you..I would not want to go to a movie and see an AD telling me how much sugar I’m drinking or fat I’m eating..I’m there to relax and be entertained..not lectured. Obesity IS an issue..but so are Eating Disorders. Hollywood might be selling us “Junk Food”..but it’s also selling an image of “Perfect faces and perfect bodies” which is also dangerous…For every child who is obese..thetre are even more who aren’t but THINK that they are!

  • Jim Cooper

    As you are well aware, food colorings HAVE NOT been reliably linked with hyperactivity in children. But the sugar content borders on the obscene.

  • Know Food Now

    Parents need to stand up to their kids and just say “NO.”  Who said we have to snack at the movies?  Not one is going to starve during those 2 hrs.  Behavior modification for eating habits is in order.  Feed your kids before you go to the movies.

    Note, the mandatory labeling of food in restaurants which begin sometime in 2012, will not apply to movie food so it will continue to be junk.