Does TV cause weight gain?

There are a number of ways in which tv causes weight gain and makes us fat.

Sedentary activity

TV is a sedentary activity and so you are doing less than you would be instead of slumped watching TV. TV burns around 45-55 calories per hour about the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar or a single finger of a Kit Kat. Compared to sleeping which burns from 44 calories for every 100 pounds you weigh. Incredibly, it is easier to lose weight by sleeping than watching TV.


TV is so poor at calorific burn because when watching people remain incredibly still. Filming of people watching tv showed just how little people moved. They even stayed rigid when having conversations and moved as little of their body as possible if they were passing objects like plates and cups.This lack of energy consumption, compared to any other activity results in TV being the most energy efficient process and results in a relative weight gain compared to any other activity.

The lack of movement also makes people get fat because when watching tv people are less aware of the other things that they are doing, including eating.

Lack of awareness of what they are eating

By being focused on tv we are unaware of just what we are eating and also how much we have already eaten. Part of my hypnosis treatment for weight loss focuses on raising awareness of what is eaten because it is so fundamental to weight management. TV lowers awareness of what we are doing and instead watching tv causes people to mindlessly gorge on food. This leads to sustained over eating. For people who are obese, and especially those who over consume sugar, Leptin the hormone which signals the brain that they are full becomes less effective and so obese people who eat in front of the tv are even more likely to become fatter still, as they are even less likely to feel full from the food that they are eating.


Eating whilst watching tv not only is mindless eating but demands a type of food which demands little attention to consume. This is typically easy to hold, naturally bite size food that does not stain, spill or squirt juice. Most food that is tv friendly is high calorie, sugar or fat dense processed food, much of which iare designed to be eaten mindlessly, and lead to problematic weight gain. Chips, biscuits, chocolate, pies, sandwiches and Pringles Crisps make a virtue of it’s mindless quality in it’s advertising “Once you pop, you can’t stop".

TV watchers eat up to 25% more food later

By being unaware of what you have eaten because of being distracted by TV, people who eat whilst watching also eat up to 25% more later in the day without realising it according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Research says that we are most likely to mindlessly eat food and experience weight gain if it is visible. Being visually triggered to eat food is the much more likely when watching tv because of direct advertising, product placement, programme sponsorship and programme content with lots of programming dedicated to cookery and travel which focus on eating. In 2010 the junk food companies spent $4.2 billion according to Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Research confirms that tv watching indicates a correlation between poor food choices and high fat diets (Sonia Livingstone 2004). If Food manufacturers could sell their products in the same volumes without having to advertise, they would. Advertising is to persuade consumers to like their products. Is it possible that if products were left for consumers to decide if they liked processed food without external promotion, they may find that they preferred simple, healthier, natural products? 

TV raises appetite in those who are not hungry

TV content dedicated to food causes viewers to think about food which can in turn increase appetite, resulting in greater consumption, of likely high fat sugary foods.


The culture of tv is making people fat too. This culture of wanting to watch more tv is resulting in devaluing cooking and having family meals and replacing them with quick to prepare microwave ready meals which are HFSS foods (High Fat, salt, and sugar)..By 2002 Britain ate double the amount of ready meals as France party because families wanted to sit down to watch tv.

TV stress increases emotional eating

People over eat to change how they feel (see food addiction). TV content is skewed to raise emotional experiences through cliffhangers, conflict and aggression or relationship loss and love. By experiencing these dramatic emotions, emotional eaters are just as likely to respond by over eating. Many people plan emotional eating by preparing chocolate or biscuits before they expose themselves to their TV experience and with it, the foundations of their weight gain.


TV also solicits feelings by re-enforcing anxiety and inferiority by having gladiatorial type programmes which expose conflict and either resolution or retribution such as Jeremy Kyle.

Body image issues are maintained by dramatic cues such as the bad guys are often overweight, arrogant, lazy and flawed whilst good characters are beautiful, strong, intelligent and agile. Subtly this leads to personal anxiety for obese people who are culturally portrayed as weak and limited.

Get your weight under control

To get your weight back under control use the weight management advice here and find out how to get your weight back to a healthy level.

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