Researchers conducted a study on how cognitive distractions during meals changes a person’s eating habits, which leads to reducing food intake.
In a recent study, researchers investigated how cognitive distractions during meals have an impact on a person’s eating habits and how it leads to reducing food intake.
The results of the randomized-controlled study, including 119 adult participants, were published in the Journal of Nutrition. The participants were placed as either distracted or control. Some participants were ‘distracted’ during a meal by playing a game, while another group was given the same meal, without being distracted. After fifteen minutes, all participants rested for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, participants were given a snack. Upon completing the snack, participants were given a survey to complete, where they had to recall information based on their meals.
The researchers reported that participants who ate while playing games had a reduction in food intake compared to the other group. In assessing the memory, those who were in the control group had a better meal recall than those who were distracted.
Additionally, the participants’ performances in the second session were affected by the first session – those who were in the distracted group in the first session had reduced food intake in the second session as well compared to the control group. Also, in the second session, participants in the distracted group behaved as if it was their first encounter with the meal, whereas participants in the control were more familiar with the food.
The lead author, Carli A. Liguori stated, “Something about being distracted on their initial visit really seemed to change the amount they consumed during the non-distracted meal. There may be a potent carryover effect between the mechanism of distraction and the novelty of the food served.”
Although it was hypothesized that distractions such as games may lead to an increase in food consumption, the findings in this study were opposite – distractions led to a reduction in food intake. This study is not conclusive and further research is needed to gain more insight into the types of distractions and the effects on eating behavior.
1. Liguori, C., Nikolaus, C., & Nickols-Richardson, S. (2020). Cognitive Distraction at Mealtime Decreases Amount Consumed in Healthy Young Adults: A Randomized Crossover Exploratory Study. The Journal Of Nutrition. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa022
2. Using technology during mealtimes may decrease food intake, study finds. (2020). Retrieved 11 March 2020, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-03/uoia-utd030620.php
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