About The Buzz: TV Preferences Impact Your Waistline?

TheBUZZ TV preferences impact your waistline?


Viewers that prefer loud, intense action-packed TV shows are more likely to gain weight from their TV-viewing habits than those who prefer more peaceful programming.


A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shed light on American’s love of television: Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over.1 According to the March 2014 Cross-Platform Report released by the Nielsen media ratings company, the average adult (18-65 years) watches 148 hours of TV a month.2 If you’re the type of person who loves movies and shows that keep you at the edge of your seat, you may want to step back and reflect on your show-time snacking habits.


Many hours of TV viewing has typically been frowned upon because of its encouragement of a sedentary lifestyle. Until more recently, TV itself has been the cause of concern, but little attention has been focused on the message. How does content or pace of content influence how much a viewer eats while watching TV?

Researchers answered this question by gathering several groups of people and asking them to watch 20 minutes of TV programming. One group watched an action movie (The Island), the other a talk show program (Charlie Rose), and the last group watched the action movie without sound. Ample snacks (M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes) were available for viewers to enjoy as they watched TV.

The study found that the more distracting the show, the more snacks were consumed. People watching the action movie with sound, which includes highly stimulating and distracting programming, with high camera cuts and high sound variation consumed 98% more food and 139 more calories than talk show viewers. Even when the sound was absent, viewers watching the muted action movie ate 36% more food and 100 more calories than talk show viewers.


Now that you’re aware of how various types of TV programming impact snacking behavior, consider which foods to have on hand as you watch. This information is especially important for parents, because research also shows that parental TV habits impact their children’s weight status.


  1. Eat before you begin watching TV to avoid mindless consumption.
  2. Measure foods into smaller portions before watching TV and leave the rest of the bag or container in the kitchen to avoid overeating.
  3. Keep a large bottle of water at your side.
  4. Chew gum if you’ve recently eaten and know that those cravings aren’t hunger.
  5. If you love popcorn, try air-popped popcorn instead of microwave popcorn.
  6. Need a crunch? Try baby carrots, cucumbers, peppers and hummus.
  7. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit within reach.


1 “American Time Use Survey Summary” (June 2014). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. View Summary

2 “An Era of Growth: The Platform Report” (March 2014). Neilsen. View Report

3 Preidt, R. (2014). “Action-Packed TV a Threat to Your Waistline?” MedlinePlus. View Article

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