Snacking too much? Step away from the TV

By Michelle Anderson • Published: October 28th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Hours after watching kid-friendly television with your kids you notice the only thing left in a bag of potato chips are the crumbs.


Yale University researchers say probably not.

In a recent study, they found a link between commercials and snack-food consumption.

Researchers conducted two studies… one aimed at children, the other at adults.

In the first, they had one group of kids watch a fourteen-minute cartoon typically viewed by seven- to eleven-year-olds.

Half saw a version with four thirty-second food commercials. The commercials promoted foods with little nutritional value, such as a high-sugar cereal, waffle sticks and potato chips.

The second group saw the same show with the same number of ads, but their ads promoted games and entertainment products.

All the children were offered cheddar-flavored goldfish crackers while viewing. Those who watched the snack commercials grazed their way through forty-five percent more goldfish than their counterparts.

The researchers call what they found “priming”… that our social and physical behavior can be affected by stimuli, such as advertisements, without our knowledge.

And don’t think because you’re a grown-up that you’re immune.

In another experiment, the researchers showed two groups of adults the same comedy show. One version had junk food commercials; the other promoted healthier snacks, such as granola bars.

Again, the ads made the difference: The group that watched the junk food ads ate more of the food offered, and spent longer eating it.

The researchers say less exposure to such ads would be better for all of us. And that may take exercising your “remote control” muscle.