By Ron Dicker
Are thrillers making us fat?
One thing’s for certain — new research shows that the snack bowl sees a lot more action when TV viewers watch action movies than when they watch other kinds of programming.
For a study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, researchers at Cornell University had 94 undergraduates munch on M&Ms, cookies, carrots, and grapes while watching 20 minutes of TV. One-third of the students watched the Michael Bay thriller “The Island,” one-third watched the talk show “Charlie Rose”, and one-third third watched “The Island” without sound.
The students who watched “The Island” ate 98 percent more than did those who watched the talk show, consuming 354 calories compared to 215 for the “Rose” watchers. Even those who watched “The Island” without sound still ate substantially more calories (314) than those who watched Charlie Rose.
What explains the different snacking patterns?
“More stimulating programs that are fast paced, include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you are eating,” Dr. Aner Tal, a researcher at the university’s Food and Brand Lab and the study’s lead author, said in a written statement. “They can make you eat more because you’re paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth.”
To avoid over-indulging on junk during that chase scene, the researchers recommend having healthy snacks more readily available.
Of course, action movies aren’t the only weight-gain enablers. Previous studies showed that cooking shows seem to attract more unhealthy eating than nature programs. And other research suggests that merely watching good television increases the appetite.