Cinemas urged to ditch popcorn for low-calorie snacks

Traditional movie snacks including popcorn and hot dogs have emerged as the latest battleground in the nation's healthy eating drive.
Buckets of sweet popcorn can contain as many as 1,800 caloriesBuckets of sweet popcorn can contain as many as 1,800 calories
Buckets of sweet popcorn can contain as many as 1,800 calories

Cinema bosses are facing calls to make more low- calorie and cheaper alternatives available in foyers amid growing concerns that a family visit to the cinema is becoming increasingly “unhealthy and expensive.”

Medical and nutrition experts say a shift to snacks like olives, sushi, smoothies and noodles could help tackle the country’s growing obesity problem.

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But the call met with a frosty response from one major cinema chain which says it previously trialled healthier snacks – and they proved a flop with customers. A large bucket of sweet popcorn can have 1,800 calories – 200 short of a woman’s daily allowance – and a hot dog has 650, which is 160 more than a burger.

The chief executives of Odeon Cinemas and Cineworld have now been contacted by the SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, who is urging the chain to consider extending the food options available at its venues.

“For a family visit to the cinema the snacks are usually unhealthy and expensive. Parents should be provided with healthy options both for themselves and for their children,” Cowan said.

“I have written to the cinema bosses, urging them to take action. I want to see a range of options available and more of a focus of promoting healthier eating.”

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Dr Peter Bennie, chair of BMA Scotland, said: “As NHS resource become ever more stretched, the medical consequences of obesity cost the health service in Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds every year. If we are going any way to relieve this pressure, we need to do much more.”

A spokeswoman for Cineworld said the chain sold fruit and nuts at their snack bars for a trial period. “However these proved unpopular with customers.”