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London - Watching your weight? Then you’d better not be watching Nigella, Delia or Jamie.
Cookery programmes make us more likely to tuck into unhealthy snacks, according to scientists.
While popular shows such as Masterchef and the Great British Bake-Off inspire many of us to have a go in the kitchen, it seems they also make us more likely to pick sugary, fatty options when we do.
And the findings apparently hold true even when the show in question is promoting healthy dishes.
In a study, researchers found that viewers are more likely to munch on junk food if they are watching a cookery show than if they have tuned into a nature programme.
The scientists believe that food-related programmes may affect eating behaviour by triggering the desire for calorie-laden products.
American psychologists recruited 80 adults to find out what impact our television viewing has on our tastebuds. Half were told to watch a cookery show, while the others watched a nature programme.
Participants were given three bowls, each containing chocolate-covered sweets, cheese curls or raw carrots, which were weighed before they were handed out. Afterwards the researchers, from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York, weighed the food again to see how much had been eaten.
They found those watching the cookery programme got through substantially larger amounts of chocolate sweets than the nature show viewers, who were more likely to tuck into the carrots.
In a report on their findings, published in the journal Appetite, the researchers said: “TV watching has been associated with overeating and obesity. But how popular food-related shows affect eating behaviour has not been examined.
“Significantly more chocolate-covered sweets were consumed among those who watched the cooking programme.
“These findings may have implications for obesity prevention.”
Previous studies have shown that watching TV for an hour a day can add more than a stone to a child’s weight over a year – especially as they tend to favour snacks they have seen advertised most frequently on the screen.
But the latest research suggests adults may be just as much at risk from programmes which actually set out to promote healthy eating. - Daily Mail