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It's not the innocent habit you think it is. 

May 16, 2017

People have been eating in front of the TV since long before the invention of Netflix. Cartoons at breakfast, TV trays on the couch at dinner – most families probably think of it as an easy way to spend time together. And now that Netflix makes it easier than ever to watch your favorite shows, the temptation to settle down in front of the television with a delicious meal might be hard to resist.  But two separate studies have actually shown that eating in front of the television can increase the chances that you’ll end up overweight.  

The study first, published in 2012 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, used a survey of 12,000 Ohio residents, to show a clear link between the number of meals eaten in front of television and obesity. People who never ate their meals in front of the television were 37 percent less likely to be obese than their counterparts who regularly ate in front of the television.

In a second study a year later backs up these findings:  The study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity – which surveyed nearly 8,000 adolescents – found that European children ages 10 - 12 who never watched television during lunch or dinner had lower odds of becoming overweight that their peers who watched TV during the same meals.

While this research does seem pretty conclusive, the occasional meal enjoyed on the couch during Friends re-runs probably won’t hurt you. Still, if these scientists are right, you probably shouldn’t make a habit out of it. All the more reason to enjoy your meals where they belong: at the dinner table.