Don’t eat food while watching television

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 0 comments

Don’t eat food while watching television

How Watching TV and Obesity Relate



Don’t’ eat food in front of television this is because a research says that if you eat food while watching the television causes the following affects to you. How many hours of TV do you watch a day? If you’re watching several hours worth, chances are you may want to reconsider the habit when you see what current research has to say about TV viewing and weight gain.

Americans have earned a reputation worldwide for watching a lot of TV. We’re also known for our huge meal portions and high rate of obesity.
Back in 1990, when a study asked American participants to name their most time-consuming activities of the day, participants ranked watching TV as number three after work and sleep. This is very revealing as to how people spend their time and what a priority television is in this country.
Today, U.S. households are still watching an average of 8 hours of TV a day. So what does television have to do with weight

How Watching TV and Obesity Relate

Studies have repeatedly found that there is a positive correlation between watching television and obesity. The Nurses’ Health Study, for example, looked at 50,000 women, ages 30-55, to see if there was a relationship between prolonged TV watching and obesity. The study found strong evidence that television viewing and obesity were definitely linked, concluding that women had a 23% increased chance of obesity for every additional 2 hours of television time they watched.
The association between TV viewing and body weight is not observed only in adults; the relationship is actually more evident in children. Bener’s 2010 study, titled “Obesity and low vision as a result of excessive Internet use and television viewing”, points out that school students who spend prolonged hours in front of television tend to be overweight or obese.
Undoubtedly, obesity and TV viewing are related. But is the relationship causal? Is the one causing the other? In other words, is the very act of watching TV causing people to become heavier? Α causal relationship of television viewing to obesity has been strongly suggested in the scientific literature. If you are interested in learning how exactly TV viewing can make you gain weight, I would urge you to read on.

Why Watching TV Could Make You Fat?

A1. You Eat Junk – Food Commercials Promote Unhealthy Eating
The potential impact of advertising is phenomenal. Advertising, especially TV commercials, are so influential that there are regulations for how companies campaign during election season, what can be advertised during children’s programs, etc. The regulations are imposed because advertisements are extremely powerful in influencing people’s decisions.

If you see an advertisement on television for food, chances are it’s not going to be promoting eating spinach. Typically, within one hour of television watching you will be exposed to approximately at least 10 food and beverage commercials. Given that commercials have a great impact on people, this is a lot of food exposure.When we are constantly bombarded with images of food that aren’t good for us but oh-so-tasty, we begin to crave those foods. Those cravings turn into snacking in front of the television or going out to buy the advertised food, which means consuming calories you don’t need.

A2. You Eat More – Watching TV Increases Your Energy Intake
In a study of 78 mostly female undergraduate students, eating behavior was examined in relation to television viewing. The study compared days when women ate meals while watching television to days when eating occurred without television. Interestingly, participants ate more on TV days. Specifically, on the days with television viewing, the participants ate an extra meal, which significantly increased their total daily calorie intake.
There is a reason why we have the propensity to eat more while we are watching television. TV has a way of distracting us, especially when we’re really absorbed in a good program. When we are munching and watching TV at the same time, we do not necessarily pay attention to what we are doing; overeating is common. Eating when you’re not hungry is common.
Since TV distracts us, we tend to bypass our habitual dietary restraints and keep eating. “Watching TV draws attention away from the eaten food and can stimulate food consumption”, explains professor Marion M. Hetherington of the department of psychology of Glasgow Caledonian University.
A lot of people will eat out of habit, simply because they always eat while watching TV. Sometimes people eat to occupy their hands and mouth. Whatever the reason, because we get distracted in front of the TV, we’re not consciously making decisions about the food we put into our mouths.
One particular study observed 48 women and revealed their eating habits when they ate in front of a TV. The participants were served 4 lunch meals and instructed to eat two of them in a quiet room with no TV or any other distraction. The other two meals were to be eaten in a room while watching television. Not surprisingly, women consumed 13.4% more calories in the presence of a TV.

A3. You Spend Less Energy – Being a TV Couch Potato Doesn’t Burn Calories
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food you consume into energy. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than the amount of energy you burn, thereby creating a deficit of calories. Television viewing does not help you create this deficit. This is because television increases inactivity and lowers your metabolic rate.
Interestingly, one study showed that watching TV for one day results in burning more than 200 fewer calories than simply lying on your bed without watching TV.
Sitting or lying on the couch with your eyes fixed on a television screen doesn’t exactly burn a lot of calories. People who tend to watch a lot of TV every day usually don’t squeeze in the time to exercise. But even if you can manage to juggle your TV time with exercise, the fact remains that people tend to eat in front of the TV, and it’s that kind of unhealthy snacking that packs on the calories, and consequently contributes to weight gain.

A4. You Consume More Food at Subsequent Meals
Eating isn’t just a problem while you are watching TV, but rather it can extend beyond TV viewing hours. Television viewing is associated with an increase in eating during meals that follow. One study specifically found that television watching during lunch time increases afternoon snack intake. This increases the overall daily calorie intake, which, when combined with the lower metabolic rate that results from watching TV, leads to weight gain.
According to researchers, eating more at subsequent meals after television viewing may be attributed to the distractibility caused by TV. Individuals who watch TV and eat at the same time find it hard to recall later what they ate and how much they consumed.
Women in that study ate lunch either quietly, or with a TV program on. Three hours later, they were then asked to rate how much they could recall about the lunch they had eaten. The women who watched TV while they ate their lunch were not able to recall as many details about their lunch. Memory is definitely hindered when watching television.
This is important, because researchers believe that remembering what we eat has an impact on how much we eat later on. If it has been registered in our memory that we snacked a few hours ago, we will be less inclined to continue snacking later on. A good example of how memory affects eating behavior is this: an amnesiac who is offered a sequence of meals tends to overeat compared to a person with normal memory capabilities. Researchers believe that remembering the quantity of what we ate is important for portion control during subsequent meals.

How Can You Avoid the Fattening Effects of TV Viewing?

Hopefully at this point you are convinced that too much TV and snacking and/or eating your meals in front of a television is a bad idea. So, what can you do to avoid getting fat while watching TV?
  • Reduce TV time and become more active. The Nurses’ Health Study recommends watching less than 10 hours a week of television and taking a brisk walk for a minimum of 30 minutes a day (4). That means you should only be watching slightly more than an hour of TV a day, if any at all. If you could reserve 30 minutes to an hour a day for some kind of exercise, you will be on the right track to limit the impact TV has on your weight.
Another way you can reduce TV time is by removing all television sets from your kitchen (where you typically eat) and your bedroom. If there isn’t a television to watch while you eat dinner, you won’t have the problem of getting distracted and overeating.

Don’t eat while you watch TV. Don’t eat your meals in front of the TV. This will protect you from overeating. It will also help you better recall your previous meals and avoid overeating at succeeding meals. Also, limit your TV snacking, especially when eating foods that are high in sugar or fat. We tend to overeat when we aren’t paying attention. So, it’s an overall great idea to only eat when you can control your portions.
Don’t let yourself turn into a human couch potato. As with everything else, moderation is the key. Limit your television viewing time and avoid eating in front of the TV and this will protect you from the TV-induced obesity. The effects of TV and weight gain are applicable to everyone, so it is particularly important to make sure children follow these guidelines as well.

Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1224537

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