120 Calories – The Unplugged Diet

By , February 7, 2010 5:09 pm


QUESTION: Which one of these photos represents 120 calories?


Do you feel the need to lose a little weight after the excesses of the holidays? Believe it or not, according to a new study, simply watching less TV could cause you to burn an average of 120 more calories per day!

That doesn’t sound huge, but according to the New York Times, that is the number of calories burned on a one mile walk.  It is also the number of calories in these servings of foods.

According to Dr. Jennifer Otten, lead author of the study:

“We need a longer-term study to see if this would be an intervention that would help with weight loss, or even weight gain prevention.  But if you add it up over time, it’s equivalent to walking eight miles a week.  Over a year, it might help prevent weight gain of 12 pounds.

Why does unplugging have this effect? According to the study by Dr. Otten published in the December 14-28 of the Archives of Internal Medicine, adults who cut their TV viewing in half spent more time in light physical activities, or even couch-potato activities that burn more calories than TV-watching does (simple “unplugged” activities like reading, playing board games or scrapbooking!).  Their eating patterns did not change*.

The study was based on 36 overweight and obese adults who watched at least 3 hours of television per day.  20 of those people were asked to cut their viewing in half (enforced through a TV lock-out device).   Armband accelerometers measured the movements of all participants.

*NOTE:  An interesting inference from the NY Times Article is that children who cut back on TV actually DO EAT LESS TOO!  Would kids benefit even more than adults by cutting TV viewing in half??

Interesting links:

What Does 120 Calories Look Like? (Be sure to look at the 38 photos at the bottom of the page too)

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

Click Off the TV, and Burn More Calories

THE STUDY: Effects of Television Viewing Reduction on Energy Intake and Expenditure in Overweight and Obese Adults – A Randomized Controlled Trial

One Response to “120 Calories – The Unplugged Diet”

  1. I’m guessing the research assumes that people who are watching tv aren’t doing anything else at the same time.

    In our house watching tv does not coincide with inactivity – we read, knit, do jigsaws, eat, play, talk, wrestle, argue, discuss, jump up and down, wriggle, fidget, go in and out of the room, all at the same time as the tv is on. I personally cannot just watch tv, I’m always doing at least 1 (and usually 2 or more) activities at the same time! lol.

    Sitting at the computer, though…that’s a much more sedate activity in our house: I find it very difficult to knit and type at the same time :)
    .-= The chicken shed´s last blog ..The perils of buying cardboard model-making sets. =-.

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