For most of us, watching TV means lounging on the couch or reclining in a chair for hours at a time while munching on a favorite snack. When selecting your next movie night flick keep in mind that watching an action movie is worse for your waistline than listening to a talk show, according to new research.

Researchers from Cornell University provided 94 undergraduate students with candies, cookies, carrots and grapes while they watched 20-minute segments of the action movie “The Island” with or without sound, or a Charlie Rose interview program.

The study published in last month’s Journal of the American Medical Association found that during the highly stimulating and distracting show, The Island, , students ate 65% more calories (354.1 vs 254.6 kcal) and almost double the amount of snack foods (206.5 vs 104.3 g) than when they watched Charlie Rose… The viewers watching “The Islandwithout sound still ate 36% more grams of food (142.1 vs 104.3 g) and took in 100 extra calories (314.5 vs 214.6 kcal) than those watching the Charlie Rose show.

So why is this? The study’s lead author, Aner Tal, suggests that the theory lies in mindless munching. “More stimulating programs that are fast-paced and include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you are eating,” said Tal. “They can make you eat more because you’re paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth.”

The researchers discovered that action movie buffs will grab for healthy foods too. So, what’s the bottom line? Opt for fruits and veggies while avoiding high-calorie snacks when watching TV.

We already know that too much “tube” time is associated with higher blood pressure and increased caloric intake resulting in obesity (especially in kids). One study found a 167-calorie increase for every hour spent in front of the TV.

So before you get ready to zone out in front of TV prepare a snack that satisfies the munchies without sabotaging your health.

Hold the butter: One cup of air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories. Instead of butter on your popcorn, try  to spray one cup of air-popped popcorn with a butter-flavored nonstick spray, then toss with your favorite spices..

Make a veggie platter: Looking to get fresh with crudités? Check out our article, “Creative Crudites.”

Published October 1, 2014