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Are Your Favorite Shows Making You Gain Weight?

Sad movies can wreck more than your mascara. They can also do a number on your diet, according to research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers’ findings show that when 30 adults watched the tragedy Love Story in the lab, they ate an average of 28 percent more popcorn than they did when they watched the comedy Sweet Home Alabama. (FYI, Love Story is actually 10 minutes shorter than Sweet Home Alabama.) What’s more, when the researchers went dumpster diving in movie theaters across seven U.S. cities, they found that moviegoers who bought popcorn and watched the sad movie Solaris (99 minutes) ate an average of 55 percent more popcorn than those who watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding (96 minutes).

When it comes down to it, it’s really a case of emotional eating, says study co-author Aner Tal, Ph.D., a research associate in the Food and Brand Lab. “Distress in general increases eating.” It doesn’t matter if that’s over real-life tragedies or ones on the silver screen.

RELATED: 3 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating Before You Start

Sad shows aren’t the only ones that can trigger mindless munching. Previous research from the lab shows that the more action-packed the TV show you’re watching, the more likely you are to also binge on nearby snacks. That’s because fast-paced flicks are so distracting that you don’t realize how much food you’re throwing back. Meanwhile, in one study from Sweden’s Uppsala University, women ate 52 percent more food when they watched a “boring” televised art lecture compared to an “engaging” episode of a popular comedy show.

RELATED: 100 Things You Can Do Instead of Eating Mindlessly

Still, that doesn’t mean you have to nix sad, action-packed, or slow-moving shows, says lead study author Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. When you watch one, just make sure your theater or couch setup is primed to help you hit your healthy eating goals. Serve yourself smaller portions of unhealthy foods like popcorn or candy, and if you’re at home, do it in the kitchen so you’ll have to get up and pause the show to get a refill, suggests Wansink. If you serve yourself healthy snacks like fruits and veggies, even better—that can help you get in your five-a-day. Of course, you could skip the screen-induced snacking altogether, and then you'll be free to watch your show or movie of choice without having to worry about unintentionally bingeing.

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