Movie posters stand the test of time; serve as a reminder of how popular culture has shaped and influenced the attitudes and behaviour of everyday people in years gone by.

Historically, the inclusion of poor lifestyle choices in pop culture has been celebrated as a mark of rebellion or refusal to conform, despite the well documented long-term impact these choices might have on a person’s health and well-being.

One might say that in recent times, we’ve moved away from this and entered into a period of ‘new sensibility’. We obviously know more today about how poor lifestyle choices affect health than we ever have done. Consequently, the dangers of endorsing poor lifestyle habits are now something that the media take much more seriously, and are thus mindful of in their practice when telling a story or marketing an item.

With this in mind, we thought it might be interesting to take a look back at a collection of movie posters from the last sixty years, and how different they might look if they were used instead to promote healthier alternatives:

1. Binge drinking


Although binge drinking is not actively encouraged by alcoholic brands or businesses within the leisure industry, temptation is arguably still as difficult to resist today as it has ever been.

Drinking high volumes, at high concentrations and in a short space of time is a practice more common among younger adults, but it’s also one which many older adults may be prone to engaging in too during special occasions (such as during a wedding or on holiday).

The healthier choice:

Drinking alcohol in smaller amounts and at a slower pace.

The lower risk guidelines set by Public Health England state that no more than 14 units should be consumed over the course of a week; and that these units too, should be spread over several days.

Of course we all know that on occasion that it's not difficult for people to exceed 5 or more units of alcohol in one evening. But the lower risk guidelines were intended to illustrate that occasions such as these shouldn't be the norm.

It's useful to be aware that on average, the body processes about one unit of alcohol per hour. So the faster you drink, the more work your body has to do, the higher your blood alcohol level is going to be, and obviously, the worse you're going to feel the next morning.

When you are out for social drinks and it looks as though you will be for the duration, a good tactic - deftly demonstrated by our version of Tom Cruise in this re-imagined Cocktail poster - is to substitute alcoholic drinks for soft drinks (in this case orange juice) on an alternating basis.

This might be the odd glass of fruit juice (opt for freshly squeezed over concentrate) a diet soda, or simply water, as every second drink.

Providing you select a soft drink which isn't particularly high in sugar or caffeine, you're going to be significantly easing the workload on your liver.

2. Smoking



When James Dean lit up on screen in the 1950s, the association of hard-edged male characters with smoking was figuratively burned into cinematic history, establishing a blueprint for other alpha male figures such as Clint Eastwood to follow. However, somewhat conversely for women, the cigarette was instead a feminine symbol of class and sophistication in many films of the time (see: Breakfast at Tiffany's).

During a time when the health risks of smoking weren't entirely clear, cigarette advertising and endorsement was a much more common practice: but now we know how nicotine and countless other toxins found in cigarettes cause harm to the body, the decision to dissuade young smokers has been championed by the government and campaign groups worldwide.

The healthier choice:

Giving up completely.

Doing so reduces the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, COPD and of course lung cancer.

Of course, quitting cold turkey is easier said than done. Nicotine replacement therapy, as part of a controlled quitting programme, can help.

Our posters feature Hunter S Thompson and Holly Golightly sporting e-cigs in place of a normal cigarette with holder. Of course, e-cigarettes are a new commodity and studies into their benefits are ongoing; but so far research has shown that they can provide an effective means of reducing regular cigarette use in smokers.

3. Wine culture


When it comes to alcohol, there are worse choices than red wine. In comparison to spirits and cocktails, they often contain less alcohol per glass and are typically consumed at a more leisurely rate.

The issue with wine which makes it potentially problematic is keeping track of how much you've had. The habitual practice at parties is often to say yes to a top up when your glass is half full; and this can make it hard to stick to your predetermined limits.

As well as leading to the issues of overconsumption detailed above (increased risk of heart disease, liver disease and hangover) wine also packs its fair share of calories. Rose tends to have the most, with around 220 per large glass; whereas red or white will contain 190-200. Contrary to popular belief, this is slightly higher than the amount typically found in a pint of lager or bitter (180-190).

The healthier choice:

Keeping track of what you have, and (once again) pacing yourself.

This means waiting until you've finished what is already in your glass before refilling, and opting for a soft drink on an alternating basis. Leslie Mann, in our healthier depiction, is sporting a glass of flavoured sparkling water.

4. Sugary snacks


Moderation, as we've said before, is key when it comes to sugary snacks. The recommended reference intake for sugar in adults is 90g. However, this figure, despite being one which is referred to on chocolate and sweet snack packaging is actually indicative of total sugars. This means that it includes all the sugar consumed throughout the course of the day, from main meals and drinks.

Chocolate and sweet snacks contain added sugar, and nutritionists advise that foods containing this type of sugar should make up no more than 5 percent of daily calorie intake. So in actuality, your recommended daily intake of sugars of this kind is much smaller than 90g.

Over-consumption presents several short- and long-term health risks. We've discussed the effects of a sugar binge before (spiked stress hormone levels, increased strain on the pancreas to produce insulin, rising blood pressure) and how these can occur within minutes.

In the long term, regularly overdoing sugary snacks can lead to increased calorie intake which can cause obesity and a heightened risk of type-2 diabetes.

The healthier choice:

Swapping sugary snacks for whole fruits.

Whether it's strawberries (as featured in our Chocolat re-imagining above) blueberries or cherries, whole fruits such as these contain around 5-10g of sugar per 100g; whereas milk chocolate will contain around 50g of sugar per 100g.

Certain types of fruit, as well as inflicting less of a burden on your system than chocolate, can help to improve immunity too.

Of course we aren't saying cut chocolate out completely; just don't make it too regular a habit, and try to save it for special occasions.

5. UV exposure


Summer is fast approaching and this, for those luckier among us, means a holiday abroad and afternoons spent out in the sun.

But sun exposure isn’t something which should be taken lightly. Countless Brits each year fall foul of sunburn, and some may even do so without staying still in the heat for too long.

What’s more, recent figures quoted by the British Skin Foundation state that there are around 100,000 new skin cancer diagnoses every year (in the UK alone, the condition is thought to be responsible for 2,500 deaths on an annual basis); and BSF note that the most prevalent preventable risk factor for skin cancer is sun exposure.

Skin damage however isn’t the only risk during warmer weather: UV rays can also damage the eyes (one fifth of cataract cases are thought to be the result of overexposure to the sun); and heat exhaustion is a condition which results from the body overheating. It can cause headaches, nauseousness, muscle aches and a fall in blood pressure, and when not addressed, it can lead to the more serious condition heatstroke, which can even result in seizures.

The healthier choice:

Before going out into the sun, you should make several preparations.

You’ll notice we’ve given Leo some sunglasses in our revised poster for Danny Boyle’s adaptation of The Beach. These will help to prevent the vision problems described above, but also limit the chances of skin damage to the skin around the eyes.

But you shouldn’t stop at just sunglasses. Covering up with sun protection for your skin is important too. Go for a product with an SPF rating of 30 or more, and make sure you reach all exposed areas not covered by clothing.

To avoid heat exhaustion, try to limit time spent in the sun during lunchtime hours, when the heat will be at its most intense, don’t overexert yourself through strenuous activities, and stay well hydrated.

6. Calorie-dense foods


During special events such as weddings and birthday parties, it’s safe to say that, historically, caterers have been known to go with the easiest option when deciding on buffet items. Fatty foods such as pastries and deep-fried snacks always go down well, firstly because they taste nice, and secondly because they are calorie-dense and provide the energy boost required to keep the collected guests partying on into the small hours.

As with sugary snacks, high calorie foods such as pies and fried snacks can be a nice occasional treat. But they are far from a regular go-to item in a healthy balanced diet, and shouldn’t be partaken in every day.

The healthier choice:

We’ve swapped the pie for a salad in our doctored American Pie: The Wedding poster to demonstrate that, although the fattier option may at times seem like the most appealing and convenient, choosing a lighter dish can help you to stay inside your recommended calorie goal at special gatherings, and prevent the inevitable energy spike and crash induced by more calorific choices.