The influence of modern cinema on food preferences

Perhaps no one will argue that cinema has a huge impact on people: their habits, lifestyle and even gastronomic preferences. And just the last, how modern popular films influence the choice of food, scientists from Stanford University tried to analyze.

What do the heroes of the most popular movies eat?

Scientists analyzed the food items featured in 250 of the highest-grossing American films and concluded that if an Oscar was given for "the most unhealthy food in a leading role," participation in the competition could take very many ribbons. The researchers compared the eating habits of popular movie characters with generally accepted dietary recommendations and concluded that there is very little in common between them. According to observations, the diets of movie characters are too low in fiber, but very high in unhealthy saturated fats, salt, sugar, and the amount of alcohol is almost 3 times higher than the real average.

The object of the study of scientists were the highest grossing American films for the period 1994-2018. Specialists divided the products shown in the cinema into groups. The drinks category included alcohol, water, dairy products, tea, coffee, sweetened and diet drinks, 100% juices, infant formula and breast milk. Food was represented by dairy products, cereals, protein foods, fruits, vegetables, snacks, sweets, mixed meals, fats, sauces and seasonings, sugar, protein powders.

After analyzing all food products, the scientists came to the conclusion that 40% of the drinks shown in the films are alcohol, and almost 25% of all food is sweets and snacks. Almost 94% of films show food with average and above average levels of sugar. In 93% of the feeds, the food contains medium or high levels of fat, with 85% of these being saturated fat. The situation is no better with food high in salt - it appeared in almost half of the films. Thus, we can say that the diet of movie heroes is far from a healthy and balanced diet.

Despite the fact that in many films the brand of a particular product was hidden, nevertheless films have the same impact as traditional advertising. This idea prompted the researchers to analyze how the legislation regulates advertising of different types of products shown in films. It turned out that, for example, under the laws of Great Britain, more than 70% of the food from the analyzed films is forbidden to be advertised if a quarter of the audience are children under 16 years old. With drinks, the situation is even more complicated: almost 90% of them do not meet UK advertising standards.

Why is it dangerous?

According to Stanford University researcher Bradley Turnwald, who led the study, from a psychological point of view, modern cinema has a huge impact on people. Many viewers strive to be like their favorite movie characters, imitating them in everything, including the choice of food.

By the way, previous studies have shown that exposure to alcohol in films encourages teens to start drinking earlier. The same thing happens with junk food. According to scientists, a teenager is 3 times more likely to choose an unhealthy snack if he sees it in a popular movie.

On the other hand, many experts agree that the food shown in films reflects the nutritional habits of most modern people, that is, it is a kind of mirror of how many of us eat on a daily basis. Thus, modern cinema allows you to look at yourself from the outside and try to change your diet, making it more balanced and correct.