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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2013 May 16;10:60. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-10-60.

The better the story, the bigger the serving: narrative transportation increases snacking during screen time in a randomized trial.

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Department of Nutrition, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.



Watching television and playing video games increase energy intake, likely due to distraction from satiety cues. A study comparing one hour of watching TV, playing typical video games, or playing motion-controlled video games found a difference across groups in energy intake, but the reasons for this difference are not clear. As a secondary analysis, we investigated several types of distraction to determine potential psychosocial mechanisms which may account for greater energy intake observed during sedentary screen time as compared to motion-controlled video gaming.


Feelings of enjoyment, engagement (mental immersion), spatial presence (the feeling of being in the game), and transportation (immersion in a narrative) were investigated in 120 young adults aged 18 - 35 (60 female).


Only narrative transportation was associated with total caloric intake (ρ = .205, P = .025). Transportation was also higher in the TV group than in the gaming groups (P = .002) and higher in males than in females (P = .003). Transportation mediated the relationship between motion-controlled gaming (as compared to TV watching) and square root transformed energy intake (indirect effect = -1.34, 95% confidence interval -3.57, -0.13). No other distraction-related variables were associated with intake.


These results suggest that different forms of distraction may differentially affect eating behavior during screen time, and that narrative appears to be a particularly strong distractor. Future studies should further investigate the effects of narrative on eating behavior.

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