The result: 40% of movie drinks were alcoholic, and snacks or sweets made up almost a quarter of the food.
Almost 94% of the movies showed medium or high sugar levels. Almost as many (93%) included medium or high levels of fat, and 85% represented medium or high levels of saturated fat. Medium or high levels of salt (sodium) were found in about half of the movies.
The report was published online on November 23 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The films, therefore, did not meet national nutritional guidelines for saturated fat, salt, and fiber. And the amount of sugar and alcohol represented was overall higher than the actual consumption of Americans, according to investigators.
“These findings present an opportunity for film producers to be more aware of the types of food and drink they represent in films,” said Turnwald. “It’s about knowing that what’s on-screen has the potential to influence tens of millions of viewers, especially children, and working harder to portray healthier options like the status quo. . ”
This thought was supported by Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, and senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
The danger, Heller said, is that “the public feels that if someone succeeds and copies this behavior, they will magically become the celebrity they admire. Of course, that is not true and celebrities are not health professionals. ”
Heller recognized that food choices in films are influenced by history and dictated by a complex calculation based on character, culture, place, and time. Still, “influencers should try to be role models for healthy behavior,” she said.
“As parents, caregivers, educators, we can adopt healthy diets and make sure our families understand the importance of healthy eating,” Heller added. “That way, when unhealthy behaviors are portrayed in movies, they can be seen as part of the story and not as the behavior we should emulate.”
There is more on healthy eating at the USDA.
SOURCES: Bradley Turnwald, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, department of psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California; Samantha Heller, MS, RD, CDN, senior clinical nutritionist, New York University Langone Health, New York City; JAMA Internal Medicine, November 23, 2020, online