Manage the Munchies with This TV Trick

Medically reviewed in September 2021

You might be able to switch off food cravings just by pressing this button: "Mute."

Yep, just press the mute button on your remote control anytime a commercial comes on. Studies suggest that TV shows loaded with food advertisements could be a recipe for gaining weight.

TV's Weighty Influence
In a study of kids, researchers checked the TV-watching habits and weight of 0- to 12-year-olds in 1997 and then again 5 years later. It turned out that the more TV commercials the kids saw, the heavier they tended to be. Even if the kids watched lots of television, their weight tended to be healthier if their shows were light on commercials (a la public television programming). Scary stuff. And other research has shown that adults eat larger quantities of snack foods after watching food ads on TV. (Less is more! Find out how mindful eating can help you eat less and still feel really satisfied.)

Danger Signals
Researchers suspect that pictures of gooey pizza, fizzy sodas, glistening burgers, and buttery cookies prime the brain for thoughtless eating, bypassing your ability to make smart food decisions. If muting the sound isn't enough to keep your mind off waist-widening munchies, turning the TV off might be a better plan. Or consider recording your shows and fast-forwarding through the ads. Here are three more ways to prevent TV-related weight gain without flipping your flat screen into a dumpster:

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