Entertainment seating is not accommodating rising obesity

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — Lack of accommodating seats for plus-sized moviegoers may be a contributor to the movie theater industry’s attendance problem, Mashable is reporting.

While box office yields are still down 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels, personal anecdotes from multiple sources, such as Reddit’s r/PlusSize thread, viral Twitter conversations about theater seat inaccessibility, and U.S.-based app AllGo, which reviews public spaces for larger bodies, all suggest plus-size neglect is a contributor.

Nearly a third of the world’s population is either overweight or obese. But while obesity numbers continue to grow, movie theaters — and all entertainment seating in general, for that matter — have largely remained the same.

“Having a third of the community not feeling comfortable in their establishment is bad news. So they’re highly motivated to make some changes,” Rebecca Alexander, the CEO of AllGo, said on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Friday.

The problem is so widespread, the FAA asked the public in early August to leave comments giving suggestions on the minimum seat dimensions for airlines and found it was flooded with comments. The issue also goes beyond airlines. Stadiums and theme parks, too, all have a plus-size problem.

“The bigger issue is that you have an experience where very few of your customers enjoy it,” Alexander said.

Along with being CEO, Alexander is also the founder of AllGo.

“So, even if you’re not a plus-size person, do you love getting on a plane? Is it a good experience? Absolutely not,” she continued.

Opponents argue reducing the number of seats or making them larger may raise fares to compensate for costs — an excuse Alexander is not buying.

“Get creative. People are too focused on making small changes to a system that nobody likes. Let’s make big changes and see if we can get to a place where air travel is actually fun again,” Alexander said.

NewsNation’s Leland Vittert questions whether the body positivity movement has something to do with growing obesity numbers in the United States. Certified health coach Carrie Lupoli said the problem stems from Americans associating personal value with size.

“We want to love people where they are, and help to accommodate them, and educate them with how they can get healthier. … Nine out of 10 deaths right now are due to a metabolic disease that has to do with obesity: diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure,” Lupoli said.

Lupoli blames the education system in the U.S. and says there’s misunderstanding surrounding “what we should be doing” to reach optimal weight.

According to market research and business intelligence, the plus-size market in the U.S. is currently worth $601 billion and is projected to nearly double in size over the next 10 years.

This is a complex problem that affects the public on an economic and psychological level.

Right now, the FAA determines the maximum number of seats on an airplane by testing to see if a full evacuation can be completed within 90 seconds. Safety advocates suggest one solution is that the FAA test these evacuations with realistic passengers: The FAA reports current emergency tests are conducted without factoring in children or the elderly.

© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation