We know that eating in front of the TV is a guilty pleasure, but new research shows that you’re better off watching a talk show while snacking than an action film.
When 94 college students were served M&Ms, grapes, carrots and cookies while watching either Charlie Rose or The Island, they found that those watching the highly stimulating The Island ate 65 percent more calories (354 total) than those watching the talk show (215 calories). Even students watching The Island with the sound off ate 46 percent more.
“We find that if you’re watching an action movie while snacking your mouth will see more action too,” Aner Tal, lead author on the research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, said in a press release. “In other words, the more distracting the program is the more you will eat.”
The researchers note that increased anxiety, agitation, and stimulation level could be at play in leading people to binge while watching.
“More stimulating programs that are fast paced, include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you are eating,” Tal said. “They can make you eat more because you’re paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth.”
Previous research showed another category that increases food cravings: cooking shows. In that study, participants who watched a nature documentary ate more raw carrots and fewer chocolates than those who watched a cooking show. Still, they consumed the same number of calories.