If watching TV while eating is one of your favorite bad eating habits, here’s something to consider: researchers have found that the kind of TV you watch affects how you eat.
Perhaps not surprisingly, combining eating with TV programs featuring high-stress, action video with rapid camera cuts and sound fluctuations has the worst effect on your eating. Researchers at Cornell University found it pulled viewers’ attention onto the screen and away from their plate, driving those subjects to eat more without thinking about it.
The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, split 94 college students into three groups: one that watched 20 minutes of the PBS talk show Charlie Rose, another that watched an excerpt of the action movie The Island with sound, and another that watched the movie without sound. With a mix of healthy and unhealthy snacks on offer (M&Ms, cookies, carrots, and grapes), those watching The Island with sound consumed 65% more calories than the Charlie Rose viewers. Even for those who watched The Island without sound, its action sequences were distracting enough that they ate 46% more calories than the Charlie Rose group. The Island has 24.7 camera cuts per minute, compared to Charlie Rose‘s 4.8.
For those who can’t help but take meals with a dose of TV, it may be worth at least toning it down a notch.