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Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):308-13. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004580. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

Playing a computer game during lunch affects fullness, memory for lunch, and later snack intake.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The presence of distracting stimuli during eating increases the meal size and could thereby contribute to overeating and obesity. However, the effects of within-meal distraction on later food intake are less clear.

OBJECTIVE:

We sought to test the hypothesis that distraction inhibits memory encoding for a meal, which, in turn, increases later food intake.

DESIGN:

The current study assessed the effects of playing solitaire (a computerized card-sorting game) during a fixed lunch, which was eaten at a fixed rate, on memory for lunch and food intake in a taste test 30 min later. A between-subjects design was used with 44 participants. Participants in the no-distraction group ate the same lunch in the absence of any distracting stimuli.

RESULTS:

Distracted individuals were less full after lunch, and they ate significantly more biscuits in the taste test than did nondistracted participants (mean intake: 52.1 compared with 27.1 g; P = 0.017). Furthermore, serial-order memory for the presentation of the 9 lunch items was less accurate in participants who had been distracted during lunch.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings provide further evidence that distraction during one meal has the capacity to influence subsequent eating. They may also help to explain the well-documented association between sedentary screen-time activities and overweight.

PMID:
21147857
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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