It’s frustrating to see “news” stories about diet and metabolism that get something right, sort of, but for really harmful reasons.
Yes, popcorn is deliciously seductive. Yes, it’s bad for you to eat a medium-sized popcorn/soda combo (“Movie Popcorn Has Shocking Calories, Fat”). But there’s no actual evidence to suggest that the “12 pats of butter” in it is the reason.
From (The Great) Gary Taubes’s GCBC:
In the mid-1970s …, [Ethan] Sims and [Elliot] Danforth [of the University of Vermont] believed that obesity was most likely caused by chronically elevated levels of insulin, and that the elevated levels of insulin were likely the product of carbohydrate-rich diets. In the 1980s, their opinions changed and fell into step with the prevailing consensus on the evils of dietary fat. ….
One potentially relevant observation that Sims and his colleagues neglected to publish, for example, was that it seemed impossible to fatten up their subjects on high-fat, high-protein diets, in which the food to be eaten in excess was meat. …. [T]he volunteers would sit staring at “plates of pork chops a mile high,” and they would refuse to eat enough of this meat to constitute the excess thousand calories a day that the Vermont investigators were asking of them. ….
Those fattening upon both carbohydrates and fat, on the other hand, easily added two thousand calories a day to their typical diet. Indeed, subjects in some of his studies … [took] as much as ten thousand calories a day. [GCBC pp. 310-1; bold added]
Well. Doesn’t that put a different spin on things?
We could practically make popcorn-eating a medical test. If it makes you hungrier rather than full, you’re courting trouble. And if you promise you won’t touch the stuff but you end up eating three-quarters of the bag your husband bought for himself (ahem), you’re in serious scrawny-pancreas territory.