Mental & Emotional Health
Weight Loss

Sad Movies Can Make You Gain Weight

Want to get (or stay) skinny? Steer clear of sad movies.

According to a new study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, moviegoers watched tearjerkers ate between 28 percent and 55 percent more popcorn both in the lab and at a mall theater. The higher consumption occurred while watching Love Story. But when watching the comedy Sweet Home Alabama, the consumption dropped.

The investigators based their findings on more than just that comparison. They went dumpster diving over a Thanksgiving weekend to analyze discarded mall movie popcorn. They found that similar results, with moviegoers who went to see the melancholy Solaris out-eating those who saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

But that’s not the whole picture.  “Sad movies also lead people to eat more of any healthy food that’s in front of them,” said lead author Cornell Professor Brian Wansink, author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. In fact, he says having healthy snacks at hand is “a quick and mindless way of getting more fruit or veggies into your diet.”

According to a release from the Cornell lab, this study complements another of the institute’s recent findings: that action/adventure fare also leads television viewers to eat more calories if the food is within easy reach. “With action movies, people seem to eat to the pace of the movie,” said Aner Tal, Ph.D. Cornell researcher and co-author, “But movies can also generate emotional eating, and people may eat to compensate for sadness.”

The findings were published in a JAMA Internal Medicine research letter.

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