NEW YORK – Watching television shows filled with action and sound may be bad for your waistline.
Researchers have found that TV viewers ate more while watching action flicks than when watching an interview.
They warned those worried about their weight to avoid or limiting high-calorie snacks when watching TV.
A Cornell study found viewers ate more M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes while watching an excerpt from a Hollywood action film than those watching an interview program.
‘More distracting TV content appears to increase food consumption: action and sound variation are bad for one’s diet,’ lead researcher Aner Tal said.
‘The more distracting a TV show, the less attention people appear to pay to eating, and the more they eat.’
The authors examined how objective technical characteristics, such as the frequency of visual camera cuts or variations in sound, might influence how much food is eaten.
Cornell University researchers randomly assigned almost 100 undergraduates to watch one of three 20-minute sessions featuring: ‘The Island,’ a 2005 sci-fi thriller starring Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor; that same movie but without the sound; or the ‘Charlie Rose’ show, a public television interview program.
The students were all provided generous amounts of cookies, M&M candies, carrots and grapes, the researchers say.
During ‘The Island,’ students ate on average about 7 ounces (207 grams) of various snack foods, and 354 calories.
That was almost 140 calories more and nearly double the ounces they ate watching interviewer Charlie Rose.
Watching the movie without sound, they also ate more – almost 100 calories more – compared with Charlie Rose.
The faster paced TV seemed to distract viewers more, contributing to mindlessness eating, said Cornell researcher Aner Tal, the study’s lead author.