Television watching during lunch increases afternoon snack intake of young women

Appetite. 2009 Feb;52(1):39-43. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.07.007. Epub 2008 Jul 23.


Eating while watching television has been shown to increase food intake in part due to the distracting effects of television viewing. It is also known that enhancing memory for the specific attributes of foods eaten in the recent past decreases subsequent food intake. Because distraction at the time of encoding interferes with memory formation, we predicted that television watching during lunch would increase afternoon snack intake due to impaired memory for recent eating. Using a repeated-measures design, 16 young women undergraduate students visited the laboratory to eat a fixed lunch either while watching television or in the absence of television. Intake of cookies at a tasting session later that afternoon was measured and participants recalled eating the lunch and rated the memory for vividness. All participants ate all of the lunch and rated appetite during lunch did not differ according to condition. Participants ate significantly more cookies after they had eaten their lunch while watching television than when they had eaten their lunch while not watching television and this effect could not be attributed to an effect of television watching on rated mood or appetite before the snack session. Watching television while eating lunch was also associated with reduced vividness ratings of the memory of the lunch. These results suggest that the effects of television watching on food intake extend beyond the time of television watching to affect subsequent consumption. They further suggest that this effect may be related to an effect of television watching on encoding of the memory of the meal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Appetite / physiology
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Television*