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Action-Packed Viewing and Mindless Munching

Action-packed TV programming encourages overeating.

Television viewing may lead to overeating. This has been variously attributed to commercials for appealing, fattening foods or to the sedentary nature of watching TV. Now a small study of 94 college students shows that some popular styles of TV shows encourage greater food consumption.

The students were provided access to snacks (M&Ms, cookies, carrots or grapes) and their consumption was logged while they watched two different types of shows. While they watched the action movie The Island, with multiple camera cuts per minute, students consumed 65% more calories than when they were watching the Charlie Rose interview show.

The investigators conclude that most of us should avoid snacking while we watch television, especially if the programming is action-packed.

[JAMA Internal Medicine, Nov., 2014]

The research was conducted by Brian Wansink, PhD, and colleagues. To learn more about mindless eating and how to avoid it, you may wish to listen to our interview with Dr. Wansink, Show 951: Why We Eat More Than We Think.


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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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