Pass the chips, or not

Here's the weight loss tip for 2007 - Stop watching television. I know what you're saying - like, duh, Dr. A, we knew that. Well now there's scientific proof, and it involves late night television.

I'm a Letterman guy myself (image credit). Not that there is anything against Leno. But, being in high school in the late 1980's meant one thing to me - staying up until 12:30am to watch Late Night with David Letterman. What do these guys have to do with a weight loss study? Read on and find out...

According to this Reuters article, researchers at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago (no joke) took people, potato chips, and television and developed a experiment around it.

Forty-five volunteers ate as many chips as they wanted during five-minute intervals over three-week periods while they watched monologues by late-night talk show hosts David Letterman and Jay Leno.

They also were given chips to eat when the television was off. [Alan] Hirsch [neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation] found people ate an average of 44 percent more chips while watching Letterman and 42 percent more while viewing Leno, than when they did not watch TV.

My question is what potato chips were they using. Because, for me, I'm partial to the BBQ flavor - and maybe salt and vinegar. But, other flavors, not so much....
At each session, volunteers were asked to concentrate on the sensory characteristics of the food such as taste and smell. Researchers say these sensory clues, in addition to internal body changes, signal satiety.

But when distracted, a person does not pay attention to either the body's sensations of feeling full, or to the sensory characteristics of the food. Many studies have linked obesity to watching television and that link is likely due to inactivity, Hirsch said. But perhaps entertaining shows are also contributing.

"If you want to lose weight, turn off the television or watch something boring," he said.

Something boring? I wonder what that means. I'd make some suggestions, but then, I know that dozens of Hollywood attorneys and television producers would be attacking my blog. *cough* Happy TV watching everybody!