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Study: Watching action films may cause overeating

A new study suggests that how much you eat at movie night may be related to what you're watching.

The study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, looked at the effect of various movie genres on the eating habits of undergraduate students. Ninety-four students were divided into three groups, each of which was shown 20 minutes of a movie or TV show. Those watching an action film consumed almost twice as much as those watching a talk show.

All three of the groups were offered M&Ms, cookies, carrots, and grapes while watching the TV. One group was shown the thriller The Island, one group was shown The Island on mute, and one group was shown a clip from Charlie Rose. The results were staggering: The students watching The Island consumed a total of 206.5 grams of food, while those watching Charlie Rose consumed a total of just 104.3 grams of food. Those watching the muted version of The Island still consumed more than the Charlie Rose viewers, with a total of 142.1 grams of food.

Of course, this study had a small sample size, and more research is needed to draw broad conclusions. But Aner Tal, a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell's Food and Brand Lab and author of the study, said that the fast-paced nature of action films could distract viewers from realizing how much they're eating. "They can make you eat more because you're paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth," Tal said in a statement.