The findings indicate that movie goers eat 28 percent more popcorn when watching tragedies compared to equally devoted movie fans who eat comedies.
For the study, researchers weighted discarded popcorn and counted popcorn boxes to determine that those who bought popcorn and watched the sad movie “Solaris” ate on overage, 55 percent more popcorn than those who watched a more upbeat movie such as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in a movie theater.
The findings are relevant in the sense that it provides ideas for promoting healthy eating.
“Sad movies also lead people to eat more of any healthy food that is in front of them. It is a quick and mindless way of getting more fruit or veggies into your diet,” said lead study author Brian Wansink from the Cornell University’s food and brand lab.
The study supports and extends a previous research, also conducted at Cornell food and brand lab, that showed that action and adventure movies lead viewers to eat more calories when watching television, but only when the food is within arm’s reach.
“With action movies, people seem to eat to the pace of the movie. But movies can also generate emotional eating, and people may eat to compensate for sadness,” added Aner Tal, Cornell researcher and study co-author.
The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine research letter.