Science and Tech


Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA.
Posted at 12:31 PM, Sep 02, 2014

If you're into watching action movies, you might want to start watching your waistline too. 

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests people are more likely to do a whole lot of snacking when they're watching those action movies. (Video via Lionsgate / "The Expendables 3")

Although we've known television and other forms of media can distract us from watching and limiting how much we eat, the researchers said they wanted to determine whether the type of content would have more or less of an effect on a person's eating habits. 

The study involved a group of 94 undergrad students. Students were divided up into "groups of up to 20 people," and each group was assigned to watch 20 minutes of one of three programs.

One program was talk show "Charlie Rose" — this was clearly the nonaction programming. And the other two programs were action movie "The Island," but one showing didn't include audio from the film. (Videos via PBS / "Charlie Rose", DreamWorks SKG / "The Island")

And here's where things get delicious. Researchers provided the participants with an unlimited amount of M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes to munch on while watching the shows.

Lo and behold, those who watched "The Island" snacked on 98 percent more grams of food than those who watched "Charlie Rose." And even without audio, participants still consumed 36 percent more grams of food watching "The Island" than those watching "Charlie Rose." That's 65 percent and 46 percent more calories, respectively.

So what should we take from this? The study's researchers say we should always be cautious and conscious when we eat food during media consumption — cautious of our body's signs, like "increased anxiety, agitation, and stimulation level," and conscious of how much food we're eating. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide some tips for maintaining a healthy weight. Getting active, monitoring your weight and maintaining a balanced diet can help keep you on track.

This video includes images from Westpark / CC BY NC ND 2.0, ChristiJohnstone / CC BY NC ND 2.0, Ebarrera / CC BY NC SA 2.0, and Nikita Kashner / CC BY NC ND 2.0.