Health Team

UNC study: Most top family films promote unhealthy eating

Posted January 31, 2014

— Even G-rated movies might not be completely kid-friendly when it comes to unhealthy eating habits, new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research reports.

Part of a UNC study called “Pass the Popcorn” found that 70 percent of the top 20 grossing family films between 2006 and 2010 contained scenes of unhealthy eating and “weight-related stigma.”

“The scenes depicting unhealthy things outnumber the scenes depicting healthy scenes 2 to 1,” said Dr. Eliana Perrin of UNC’s Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the study’s author.

The research revealed that more than half the films depicted unhealthy snacks, a quarter depicted exaggerated portion sizes and a large percentage showed characters in sedentary behavior.

Perrin said the films, which include family-friendly hits like “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda,” also promote weight-related bullying.

“Lots of messages encouraging them to be overweight, and yet, when they are overweight, they’re condemned – they’re the funny one, they’re the stupid one and they’re the lazy one,” Perrin said.

“It’s just a clear example of bullying because of obesity, and it’s not OK,” she said. “It’s there in the movies, and it’s meant to be funny.”

But Perrin said researchers are still unclear on how exactly these scenes affect young viewers – the subject of the study’s second phase.

“They’re clearly seeing it as funny, but does it mean they’ll bully the next overweight kid?” she said. “That’s what we really need to figure out.”

Perrin said it’s important for parents to watch these movies with their kids and discuss scenes of unhealthy behavior.




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  • Desiderata Feb 5, 2014

    UNC has no ground to stand on when it comes to healthy meals. At UNC hospital, has anyone noticed the meals they serve....lots of greasy fatty foods....sodas and other things that are over priced. Just saying

  • Half Red Half Blue Feb 3, 2014

    70 percent sounds like a lot when in fact it is only 14 out of a small pool of 20 in the span of 4 years. This lady can be so misleading.

  • SaveEnergyMan Feb 3, 2014

    With logic like this we'll be like China where the government controls the media, the information, and the people. There everything is happy (except for western greed), and the good guy is always a good communist.

    Movie humor is only as funny as those who will buy a ticket to see it think it is. I don't find a lot of it funny, but to each their own. The missing piece is family and parenting. Goes a long way to making good adults.

  • kermit60 Feb 3, 2014

    I'm sure that Dr. Eliana Perrin watched cartoons and disney movies as a child. She doesn't appear overweight and is educated. Either kids have sunk on the evolutionary scale or lack what she must have had. Common sense adult supervision.

  • sweetlyght Feb 3, 2014

    Oh my goodness, please give it a rest.
    1. Pandas are suppose to be fat.
    2. Shrek goes out of it's way to promote a hero with a body type that isn't perfect.
    3. Children LOVE junk food, so of course they find films Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs fun, I mean who wouldn't find Ice Cream snowing from the sky fun?

    We over evaluate children. Children have no control over their eating habits, because they lack the funds to buy food. They will learn how they eat from the way their family eats. It's no secret, all of this has everything to do with parenting.

  • Half Red Half Blue Feb 3, 2014

    Another case of someone with nothing better to do. We can no longer blame Obama, now it is Disney's fault.