Study warns on eating and playing

PEOPLE planning on slimming down in the new year have been warned against snacking while playing computer games or eating at their desk at work.

Research has revealed that playing games, or simply working through lunch, leads to your body forgetting you have actually eaten at all.

In a study, researchers from the nutrition and behaviour unit in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol have been exploring ways in which memory and attention influence appetite and food intake.

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The study's volunteers were split into two groups, with one group eating a lunch of nine different foods while playing the card game solitaire on a computer.

The second group ate the same lunch but without any distractions.

The researchers found that those who played solitaire felt less full after their lunch and just 30 minutes later ate twice as many snacks as the non-distracted participants.

Those who had been playing the computer game could not even remember the food items they had eaten.

Researchers say these findings highlight an important role for memory of recent eating and that distraction from eating can lead to increased food intake later in the day. Similar observations have been made in people who eat while watching television.

Reader in behavioural nutrition, and one of the authors of the paper, Dr Jeff Brunstrom said: "This work adds to mounting evidence from our laboratory and others that cognition, and memory and attention in particular, play a role in governing appetite and meal size in humans."

The study, titled Playing A Computer Game During Lunch Affects Fullness, Memory For Lunch, And Later Snack Intake, by Rose Oldham-Cooper, Charlotte Hardman, Charlotte Nicoll, Peter Rogers and Jeff Brunstrom, has been published online.