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Distractions Can Undermine
Weight Loss Attempts
Writer

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For women who are trying to lose weight, eating a meal while watching an engrossing movie may be a sure way to sabotage a diet, recent study findings suggest.

Women who normally control the amount of food they eat tend to consume more calories when they are distracted, researchers report in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the study, women described as restrained eaters consumed significantly more calories when they listened to a detective story during lunch, than when they ate alone without any other distractions.

Talking on the phone, listening to music or watching TV are other distractions that could undermine a dieter's best intentions, according to Drs. France Bellisle and Anne-Marie Dalix, the study authors from Hopital Hotel-Dieu in Paris, France.

``The obvious recommendation for people who wish to control their food intake and maintain or lose weight is to avoid distracting stimuli during meals,'' Bellisle told Reuters Health.

The study included 41 mostly healthy-weight women, aged 26 to 44, who generally tried to limit their food intake. The women ate lunch once a week under four different conditions in a laboratory setting. Women ate alone, ate alone while listening to recorded instructions on how to focus on the texture and taste of their food, ate alone while listening to a tape of a detective story, or ate lunch with three other women who were also participating in the study. The same meal was provided under all four conditions.

Although the women reported equal levels of hunger on all four occasions, they consumed significantly more calories when they were distracted by the detective story. On the whole, the groups of women eating together did not consume more. However, some individuals who were minimally restrained eaters did actually eat more, while those who were highly restrained did not, Bellisle explained in an interview.

She suggested the influence of social factors on eating should be investigated further.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001;74:197-200.


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