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



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.


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


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.


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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