Is Game of Thrones making you fat?

The next time you sit down to binge watch House of Cards or Game of Thrones, you may want to think twice about the snacks you're consuming.

New study suggests the better the TV, the more you eat

A new study suggests shows like Game of Thrones, with complicated plot twists, may encourage you to eat more while watching TV. (Game of Thrones)

The next time you sit down to binge watch House of Cards or Game of Thrones, you may want to think twice about the snacks you're consuming.

New research suggests the more complex or engrossing the television program, the more likely you are to eat more because you're distracted. 

"You're having to do a lot of cognitive work on your end keeping track of who's who and whats going on in the story.  An example I usually give is Game of Thrones. A lot of these are really complicated and you have to do a lot of thinking to keep up with what's going on," said Liz Lyons, a behavioural psychologist at the University of Texas.

Lyons said all that thinking leads to hundreds of extra calories consumed in snacking.

Her study involved a television, a couch, and many types of snacks.

"So that's how we did it We had four different food choices, said Lyons. "We made sure to have sweet options and savoury options, and healthier seeming options and less healthy options."

Some people consumed 2,000 calories in 1 hour

Once comfortable, participants were given access to a Netflix account for one hour, while the researcher watched behind a one way glass wall. 

Study shows those who watched television shows with complicated storylines, consumed more calories through snacking. (CBC)

"I was really amazed. We had people come in for an hour and I felt like we should be sending adverse event reports to our institutional review board because I was giving people food and they were eating like 2000 calories in a an hour," said Lyons.  

"I felt bad. They were coming to a building marked Weight Research Centre and I was actively hurting their health which was not my intention. People had no idea how much they ate. They would talk to me afterwards, and they would say. 'oh I was so good.' and they had just eaten 1500 calories of trail mix"

Lyons said study subjects chose to watch programming ranging from snappy sitcoms to intense cable drama.

She said those who rated their viewing choices as more engrossing or narratively complex, ate more food. 

"This is terrible. We had it so they could pour it out in the bowls as they liked. People with excellent taste combined the trail mix with the M&Ms and that of course caused people to eat 2000 calories.  But of course, it was crazy delicious."

With files from Khalil Akhtar


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