The better the story, the bigger the serving: Narrative transportation increases snacking during screen time in a randomized trial

Elizabeth J. Lyons, Deborah F. Tate, Dianne S. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Background: Watching television and playing video games increase energy intake, likely due to distraction from satiety cues. A study comparing one hour of watching TV, playing typical video games, or playing motion-controlled video games found a difference across groups in energy intake, but the reasons for this difference are not clear. As a secondary analysis, we investigated several types of distraction to determine potential psychosocial mechanisms which may account for greater energy intake observed during sedentary screen time as compared to motion-controlled video gaming.Methods: Feelings of enjoyment, engagement (mental immersion), spatial presence (the feeling of being in the game), and transportation (immersion in a narrative) were investigated in 120 young adults aged 18 - 35 (60 female).Results: Only narrative transportation was associated with total caloric intake (ρ = .205, P = .025). Transportation was also higher in the TV group than in the gaming groups (P = .002) and higher in males than in females (P = .003). Transportation mediated the relationship between motion-controlled gaming (as compared to TV watching) and square root transformed energy intake (indirect effect = -1.34, 95% confidence interval -3.57, -0.13). No other distraction-related variables were associated with intake.Conclusions: These results suggest that different forms of distraction may differentially affect eating behavior during screen time, and that narrative appears to be a particularly strong distractor. Future studies should further investigate the effects of narrative on eating behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
StatePublished - May 16 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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