Complications From Eating Popcorn

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Eating popcorn can be hazardous to your health.
Eating popcorn can be hazardous to your health. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

There is nothing like eating a buttery bag of popcorn while enjoying a good movie. Unfortunately, enjoying this very American treat can be hazardous to our health. The risks involved with eating popcorn probably don’t cross people’s minds. It is, after all a healthy snack, especially when prepared in an air popper, and has a high amount of fiber in each serving. But if you're not careful, popcorn can lead to dental problems, digestive issues and even choking.

Broken Teeth

Unknowingly biting down on an unpopped kernel can cause dental pain -- and expensive treatment. In 2008, the New York Post reported on a man who attempted to sue a movie theater after fracturing his tooth on an unpopped kernel and incurring $1,250 in dental charges. The case was thrown out of court, but it shows that popcorn complications are a very real threat if precautions aren’t taken. Slow down, eat small handfuls, and be careful to stick to the fluffy, popped kernels while avoiding the tough, unpopped ones.

Lodged Kernel

It is not uncommon to get kernels stuck between your teeth when eating popcorn. A piece of lodged popcorn can irritate the gums and cause complications like swollen gums and even cavities if left to decay in the tight spaces between the teeth. It is always important to floss daily, particularly if you’ve had popcorn.

Choking

Eating dry popcorn without a beverage can be a challenge. Popcorn is very dry and there is a potential hazard of choking if not careful when eating popcorn. Unfortunately, children are at a high risk of choking on popcorn. For a child who is less than 3 years old, popcorn can sometimes get lodged in their small airways. This, combined with a child’s overzealous need to shove goodies in their mouths without properly chewing, can spell trouble and be fatal if the child is not closely supervised. Some experts suggest that is it best to avoid feeding small children popcorn altogether until they have learned proper chewing and swallowing skills.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Popcorn has a lot of insoluble fiber, which can trigger gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn's or Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS), in people who are prone to these conditions.

Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals

Toxic food packaging byproducts can be leached into line junk food wrappers, such as microwave popcorn bags, and cause chemical contamination in human blood. In a study performed by the University of Toronto, researchers suspected that the source of human exposure to perfluorinated carboxylic acids could be the consumption and metabolism of chemicals that are applied to paper goods such as microwave popcorn bags. Regulations of these dangerous chemicals are being investigated by regulatory bodies in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Heart and Health Problems

A study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2009 proved through lab analysis that movie theater popcorn is loaded with saturated fat, which can lead to clogged arteries and a spare tire around the middle. The lab results showed that, depending on the size of the bag, a person can easily consume anywhere from 670 to 1,030 calories in popcorn at one movie. Of course this doesn’t include any additional 130 to 500 calorie butter flavored topping (hydrogenated soybean oil) and soda.

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