The Influence of Media on Food Intake and Obesity in Young Adults: An Experimental Study

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Background: Obesity is a growing epidemic and while the causes of obesity are multi-factorial, the present study focuses on the influence of media on the quality and quantity of foods consumed. Research suggests that exposure to media at meal time promotes overeating, thus influencing the ability to regulate energy intake. Such research has led to recommendations for life style changes that involve lowering media consumption during mealtime. Methods: Sixty-sevenparticipants were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions, television watching (group1) and no television watching (group 2). They were provided with an unlimited supply of foods, including both low and high caloric foods. Group watched television (TV) programming for 60 minutes during food consumption, while group 2 consumed food in the absence of any media exposure. Results: Using the groups as independent variables and BMI as the covariate, ANCOVA revealed a significant effect of TV watching on a total amount of low caloric foods consumed, F(1, 64) = 5.55, p < .05. Conclusions: It has been speculated that total number of hours spent watching TV may have a direct correlation with adiposity. While most studies have reported correlations between the two variables, to the best of our knowledge, this is one of the few experimental studies suggesting that mealtime media exposure results in decreased consumption of nutrient dense foods.


Obesity Society Scientific Meeting


San Antonio, TX