Watching TV Can Make You Fat

I knew I shouldn't have binged on those Real Housewife shows.  All that drama and name-calling and bitchiness.   Not to mention the ones who hated each other.

But now there's a reason it's a good idea to turn off these shows.  A new study says they can make you gain weight.

According to, the study finds that fast-paced television programs might lead people to eat twice as much food.

“More stimulating programs that are fast paced and include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you’re eating,” said lead author Aner Tal, post-doctoral researcher at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at “They can make you eat more because you’re paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth.”

An increasing amount of research shows an association between TV viewing and higher food consumption and a more sedentary lifestyle.  

I have to admit the housewives make me depressed -- all that money and leisure time and cocktails -- and they're still the most miserable people on TV.  That alone should have made me turn them off.  But eating?  When I'm watching them, I'm too nauseated.

Still, the study says we're better off watching the news (talk about depressing!).

In the study, conducted by researchers at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, 94 undergraduates snacked on M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes while watching 20 minutes of television programming. A third of the participants watched a segment of the action movie The Island, a third watched a segment from the talk show, the Charlie Rose Show, and a third watched the same segment from The Island without sound.

Those who watched the action movie ate almost twice as many snacks – 98 percent more – than those watching a news talk show.

“Even those watching “The Island” without sound ate 36% more," said study co-author Brian Wansink, author of Slim by Design (forthcoming) and professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab..” People watching the more distracting content also consumed more calories, with 354 calories consumed by those watching The Island (314 calories with no sound) compared to 215 calories consumed by those watching the Charlie Rose Show.

Experts suggest -- duh -- to just eat healthy foods while watching your favorite shows.  That way, if  stuffing carrots in, no harm done.  Unless, of course, it makes you choke.


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