Sad movies are bad news for diets.

That’s the result of a study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab , which showed that moviegoers watching tearjerkers ate between 28% and 55% more popcorn both in the lab and in a mall theater during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Depressing movies are fattening

People watching tearjerkers eat 28-55 percent more

According to findings published in a JAMA Internal Medicine research letter, moviegoers ate 28% more popcorn (125 versus 98 grams) when watching the tragedy Love Story than when watching the comedy Sweet Home Alabama.

Dumpster diving analyses of discarded mall movie popcorn in seven cities across the US, showed similar results over a Thanksgiving weekend.

Sad Movies are FatteningAfter weighing discarded popcorn and counting popcorn boxes, Cornell Food and Brand Lab researchers found that moviegoers who bought popcorn and watched a sad movie, Solaris, ate an average of 55% more popcorn (127 versus 82 grams) than those watching the more upbeat movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

If you love tearjerkers, don’t despair. “Sad movies also lead people to eat more of any healthy food that’s in front of them,” says lead author Cornell Professor Brian Wansink, author of the book, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. “It’s a quick and mindless way of getting more fruit or veggies into your diet.”

When can action movies lead to more eating?

This study complements a recent finding, also by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, which showed that action and adventure movies also lead television viewers to eat more calories — but only if the foods are within arm’s reach.

“With action movies, people seem to eat to the pace of the movie,” said Aner Tal PhD, Cornell researcher and co-author, “But movies can also generate emotional eating, and people may eat to compensate for sadness.”

Wansink provides a last piece of advice for dieting movie-lovers, “Keep snacks out of arms reach, ideally leave them in the kitchen and only bring to the couch what you intend to eat. It’s easier to become slim by design than slim by willpower.”

About The Author

The Myria Editors

Myria, originally launched in 1998, strives to deliver more conversation, and less gossip. More intelligence, less eye-rolling. More acceptance, less judgment. And throughout the site: more needle, less haystack. Through life's ups, downs, and everything in between, we want to encourage you, support you, and help guide you. The team behind Myria understands that status updates and selfies never tell the whole story, and that we all have stuff to deal with, and that's nothing you need to hide here. Beyond "been there, done that" - every day, we're still there and still doing it. That's how we know: You've got this.


Photo credit(s): Illustration by Daniel Miller

Original publication date: March 2, 2015

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