Study: Ac­tion-packed TV might make you snack more

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - HEALTH - By LIND­SEY TAN­NER

CHICAGO — Could ac­tion-packed TV fare make you fat? That’s the im­pli­ca­tion of a new study that found peo­ple snacked more watch­ing fast-paced tele­vi­sion than view­ing a more leisurely paced talk show.

THE SKINNY: 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.

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 THE­ORY: The faster paced TV seemed to dis­tract view­ers more, con­tribut­ing to mind­less­ness eat­ing, said Cor­nell re­searcher Aner Tal, the study’s lead au­thor. The re­sults sug­gest that a steady diet of ac­tion TV could raise risks for pack­ing on pounds.

LIM­I­TA­TIONS: The study was small and didn’t last long enough to mea­sure any long-term ef­fects on the stu­dents’ weight. It’s also pos­si­ble some view­ers would find talk shows or other slow­er­paced TV more dis­tract­ing and would be more apt to snack more dur­ing those shows than when watch­ing ac­tion­packed pro­grams.

THE BOT­TOM LINE: Tal sug­gests view­ers take steps to pre­vent mind­less snack­ing, by avoid­ing or lim­it­ing high­calo­rie snacks when watch­ing TV.

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