Eating dinner in front of the TV is a nightly ritual for many people. But a new study shows that it may damage your health.
Researchers found it can be bad for you even if you only have it on the background.1
University of Minnesota scientists examined videos of 120 families eating dinner. The researchers noted whether the TV was on and what their meals consisted of. And they asked families to answer questions about how much they enjoyed the meal.
Forty-three percent of the subject families kept the TV on for all their dinners.
The families who didn’t watch TV during meals ate significantly healthier foods. And they reported that they enjoyed their food more.
Families who kept the TV on in the background during dinner—but didn’t watch—ate healthier than families actively watching. But they didn’t eat as healthy as non-TV families.2
Active TV watchers consumed more fast food for dinner. And children in TV families ate fewer vegetables and more fried foods.3
Amanda Trofholz was the lead author of the study. It was published in the journal Appetite. She said: “Families who see the family meal as a time to connect with and enjoy their families may be more likely to turn off the TV, have a higher quality meal, and enjoy the meal more.”
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TV Watchers Eat 65% More Calories
The new research confirms previous studies that show TV watching while eating can sabotage your diet:
- A 2014 Cornell University study published in JAMA Network Journal found that watching action shows on TV caused viewers to eat 65% more calories.4
Researchers theorized that watching fast-paced, engrossing shows caused diners to eat mindlessly, shoveling in food without paying attention to how much they were eating.
- A 2013 study by the University of Liverpool in England found that mindless eating can become a habit for TV watchers. People not only eat more while watching TV, but eventually they eat more even when not in front of the television. They condition themselves to eat without thinking about their food.5
So do your diet a favor. Turn off the TV while eating.
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In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch