Science News

Can James Bond make you binge?

Thu, 4th Sep 2014

Chris Smith

Watching gripping action-packed movies makes you eat more, so would-be dieters are advised to switch over to PopcornQuestion Time instead, new research has shown. 

Cornell scientist Aner Tal asked ninety four college students, half of them female, to watch 20 minutes of either an episode of the Hollywood action movie "The Island", or an excerpt from a more sedate American talk show.

The viewers were also given a generous supply of snacks to accompany their viewing. The food was weighed before and after to gauge how much everyone ate.

The results, published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine, show that watchers of the action movie ate almost 100% more food - amounting to 65% more calories - than the chat-show viewers.

The effect appears to be related to the degree to which a programme distracts the person watching it, because when the soundtrack of The Island footage was switched off for one group of viewers, the amount of calories consumed fell, although it was still 46% higher than those watching the talk show.

There was also a gender bias, with males appearing to be more susceptible to the movie-binge effect than females, perhaps, as Aner Tal speculates, "because the guys get more caught up in the movie than the girls do".

So should films come with health warnings? "I'd recommend that people limit what they take into the lounge or cinema with them," says Tal. "The distraction of the movie causes people to become much less aware of the "I feel full messages" that their bodies are sending them, and this leads to over-eating."

Interestingly he's not looked yet at the relative effects of other programmes or media genres, including cookery or even radio shows.

For now though, the moral of the story appears to be, when settling down in front of a Bond movie, put a padlock on the fridge. "Or at least make it harder to get to and open so you burn some calories in the process," cautions Tal.



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