Action films make us eat more, says study

If you want to bulk up for your next half marathon, you should probably start streaming an action-packed movie with your dinner. If, on the other hand, you want to eat more mindfully, you’d be better off switching on something more sedate. Researchers have discovered that a Hollywood action film is more likely than an interview programme to make us stuff our faces.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers assigned 94 students (57 of them women) one of three different clips: either 20 minutes of ScarJo thriller The Island, the same clip from the film with sound removed, or a segment from iconic US interview show Charlie Rose.

They gave each participant M&Ms, biscuits, carrots, and grapes to snack on if they wished (and then weighed them afterward to see how much they’d eaten). The people who watched The Island ate almost double the amount of food, 98% more grams (and 65% more calories) than those who watched Charlie Rose. And it’s not all about the sound: those who watched the silent clip ate 36% more grams and 46% more calories than the Charlie Rose viewers.

The study’s authors, Aner Tal, Scott Zuckerman, and Brian Wansink, concluded that the more a TV show caught our attention and distracted us from what we were eating, the more food we were likely to put away. Of course, when it comes to carrots and grapes, who cares? And when it comes to biscuits and chocolates, you might be less likely to eat more than you’d like when a group of researchers aren’t handing you a tray of them…

Image via cyclonebill’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley