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Snacking while Watching Action Movies can Raise Obesity Risk

Sep 02, 2014 07:25 AM EDT
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A new study suggests that people tend to snack more while watching action movies. Unhealthy eating behavior is known to raise obesity risk.

Sedentary activities such as watching too much television are known to raise obesity risk. A new study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab has found that not all TV programs are similar and watching some of these shows can lead to unhealthy eating behavior.

"We find that if you're watching an action movie while snacking your mouth will see more action too!" said Aner Tal, Ph.D. lead author of the new study, according to a news release. "In other words, the more distracting the program is the more you will eat."

The study included 94 undergraduates. The participants were given M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes while they watched 20 minutes of television programming.

A third of the participants in the study watched a clip of the action movie "The Island", while another third watched the same clip without sound. The rest were shown a segment from the talk show, the Charlie Rose Show.

"People who were watching The Island ate almost twice as many snacks - 98% more than those watching the talk show!" said co-author Brian Wansink, author of Slim by Design (forthcoming) and Professor and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. "Even those watching "The Island" without sound ate 36% more."

The researchers said that the fast-paced action sequence can distract people and lead to overeating. What is interesting is that people can also be tuned to eat healthy foods while watching action shows.

"The good news," said Wansink in a news release, "is that action movie watchers also eat more healthy foods, if that's what's in front of them. Take advantage of this!"

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Internal Medicine.

Previous research has shown that being a couch potato can lead to several health problems such as obesity, diabetes and even certain cancers.

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