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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):37-44. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26310. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Association between energy intake and viewing television, distractibility, and memory for advertisements.

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Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA.



The effect of television viewing (TVV) with and without advertisements (ads) on energy intake is unclear.


The objectives were to test 1) the effect of TVV, with and without ads, on energy intake compared with a control and reading condition and 2) the association of distractibility and memory for ads with energy intake and body weight.


Forty-eight (26 female) adults (age: 19-54 y) with a body mass index (in kg/m(2)) of 20-35 completed this laboratory-based study. All participants completed 4 buffet-style meals in random order in the following conditions: 1) control, 2) while reading, 3) while watching TV with food and nonfood ads (TV-ads), and 4) while watching TV with no ads (TV-no ads). Energy intake was quantified by weighing foods. Distractibility and memory for ads in the TV-ads condition were quantified with a norm-referenced test and recognition task, respectively.


Repeated-measures analysis of variance indicated that energy and macronutrient intake did not differ significantly among the 4 conditions (P > 0.65). Controlling for sex, memory for ads was associated with body weight (r = 0.36, P < 0.05) and energy intake but only when viewing TV (r = 0.39, P < 0.05 during the TV-no ads condition, and r = 0.29, P = 0.06 during the TV-ads condition). Controlling for sex, distractibility was associated with body weight (r = 0.36, P < 0.05) but not energy intake. Distractibility, however, accounted for 13% of the variance in men's energy intake (P = 0.11).


TVV did not affect energy intake, but individual characteristics (memory for ads) were associated with body weight and energy intake in certain conditions. These characteristics should be considered in food intake and intervention studies.

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