Using a smartphone at mealtimes can lead to an expanding waistline, say scientists.
Researchers have found that men and women consumed 15 percent more calories when looking at their phones while eating. They also ate more fatty food.
The groundbreaking study suggests that staring at a phone screen may distract diners from how much food they are actually eating.
‘It may prevent the correct understanding of the brain over the amount of food ingested,’ said researchers who filmed 62 volunteers eating alone.
The men and women, aged 18 to 28, were invited to help themselves to a choice of food – ranging from healthy options to soft drinks and chocolate – until they were satisfied. In three trials, the volunteers were recorded eating with no distractions, using a smartphone or reading a magazine.
On average, the volunteers ate 535 calories without the distraction of a smartphone but 591 when using a mobile.
Those in the sample who were classed as overweight ate 616 calories while using their phones. When in possession of their mobiles, the volunteers also consumed 10 percent more fatty foods. They also ate more when reading a magazine.
‘Smartphone use during a meal increased calorie and fat intake,’ said Márcio Gilberto Zangeronimoa, a lead author of the study – carried out at the Federal University of Lavras in Brazil and University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.
He added: ‘Tablets and smartphones have become the main “distracters” during meals, even early in childhood, so it is important to pay attention to how this may impact food choices.
‘A distracter prevents the brain correctly understanding the amount of food ingested.’
The study is published in the journal Physiology And Behavior.