Us­ing tech­nol­ogy while eat­ing may de­crease food in­take

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

In a new study, nu­tri­tion sci­en­tists sug­gest that be­ing dis­tracted by tech­nol­ogy dur­ing meal­times may de­crease the amount of food a per­son eats. The find­ings were pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion.

When 119 young adults con­sumed a meal while play­ing a sim­ple com­puter game for 15 min­utes, they ate sig­nif­i­cantly less than when they ate the same meal with­out dis­trac­tions, said lead au­thor Carli A. Liguori.

Par­tic­i­pants’ food con­sump­tion was eval­u­ated on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions - one day when they played the game while eat­ing and on another day when they ate with­out dis­trac­tions.

The game, called Rapid Vis­ual In­for­ma­tion Pro­cess­ing, tests users’ vis­ual sus­tained at­ten­tion and work­ing mem­ory and has been used ex­ten­sively by re­searchers in eval­u­at­ing peo­ple for prob­lems such as Alzheimer’s dis­ease and at­ten­tion-deficit dis­or­der.

The game ran­domly flashes a se­ries of dig­its on the com­puter screen at the rate of one per sec­ond. Par­tic­i­pants in the study were in­structed to hit the space bar on the key­board when­ever they saw three con­sec­u­tive odd num­bers ap­pear.

“It’s fairly sim­ple but dis­tract­ing enough that you have to re­ally be watch­ing it to make sure that you don’t miss a num­ber and are men­tally keep­ing track. That was a big ques­tion for us go­ing into this - how do you en­sure that the par­tic­i­pant is dis­tracted? And the RVIP was a good so­lu­tion for that,” Liguori said.

The par­tic­i­pants, who had fasted for 10 hours be­fore each visit, were told to con­sume as much as they wanted of 10 minia­ture quiches while they were ei­ther play­ing the game or eat­ing qui­etly with­out dis­trac­tions for 15 min­utes.

The food was weighed and counted be­fore and after it was given to each per­son.

After a 30-minute rest pe­riod, par­tic­i­pants com­pleted an exit sur­vey that asked them to re­call how many quiches they had been given and the num­ber they had con­sumed. They also rated how much they en­joyed the meal as well as their feel­ings of hunger and full­ness.

Liguori hy­poth­e­sized that, in keep­ing with prior re­search, when peo­ple ate while us­ing the com­puter game they would not only con­sume more food but would have poorer mem­ory of what they ate and en­joy it less.

In­stead, she found that par­tic­i­pants ate less when they were dis­tracted by the com­puter game. More­over, par­tic­i­pants’ meal mem­ory - their abil­ity to re­call how much they had been served and eaten - was less ac­cu­rate when they were dis­tracted than when they ate qui­etly with­out the game.

How­ever, par­tic­i­pants’ con­sump­tion on their sec­ond visit was af­fected by which ac­tiv­ity they had per­formed dur­ing their ini­tial visit.

The peo­ple who en­gaged in dis­tracted eat­ing on their first visit ate sig­nif­i­cantly less than their coun­ter­parts who did not ex­pe­ri­ence the dis­tracted eat­ing con­di­tion un­til their sec­ond visit.

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