87. Our movies and their nutritional content

nutrition Dec 02, 2020

By: Michael Beiter

Researchers looked at 250 of the top grossing US movies from 1994 to 2018. They wanted to asses the nutritional quality of the food and beverages depicted on the big screen compared to federal dietary recommendations.

Here's what they found: 

73% of movies earned a less healthy food rating.

90% of movies earned a less healthy beverage rating. 

With a standard 2000 calorie diet in mind movies failed to match federal recommendations of fat by 25%, fiber by 45% and they contained 16% more sugar than recommended. The worst violation was in alcohol consumption: 313% above what actual US residents consume with a 2000 calorie diet. 

Furthermore, as movies ascended the Motion Picture Association of Americas rating system from G to R the amount of alcohol consumption skyrocketed. This was on top of their findings that even in movies with lighter ratings the trends of poor nutritional quality were constant. The movies made for families and children depicted just as much deviation from a healthy food and drink as those meant for more mature audiences. 

Movies are a large part of the entertainment culture in the United States. The movies analyzed in this research made a combined 10 billion dollars at the box office in the US and 164 billion worldwide. They had massive audiences in theaters alone and this does not account for private viewing at home. Ninety percent of the movies looked at were targeted and accessible to youths with ratings of G, PG, and PG - 13. 

There are many countries throughout the world that restrict advertisements for unhealthy foods. However, movies depict food and drink consumption that are unhealthy and they go unregulated. As part of sociocultural influence these movies can be massively influential to their viewers, especially those not mature or educated enough to know what is healthy and what isn't when it comes to nutrition. 

With rates of disease stemming from unhealthy diets skyrocketing and the obesity epidemic at all time highs it is time to be more responsible about the food and drink consumption depicted in what is arguably some of our most influential media. 


You can read the study here: 

Turnwald BP, Handley-Miner IJ, Samuels NA, Markus HR, Crum AJ. Nutritional Analysis of Foods and Beverages Depicted in Top-Grossing US Movies, 1994-2018. JAMA Intern Med. Published online November 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.5421


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