Driven to snack: simulated driving increases subsequent consumption


When individuals eat while distracted, they may compensate by consuming more afterwards. Here, we examined the effect of eating while driving, and explored potential underlying mechanisms. Participants (N = 116, 73.3% female) were randomly allocated to complete a driving simulation (distraction condition) or to watch someone else drive (control condition) while consuming 10g (50.8 kcal) of potato chips. Afterwards, participants rated the taste intensity and hedonic experience, reported stress levels, and were then given the opportunity to eat more chips. As hypothesized, participants consumed more chips after the driving simulation. Stress levels were higher in the driving compared to control condition, but were inversely related to consumption amount, ruling out stress as explanatory mechanism. Saltiness ratings differed between the driving and passive viewing condition, only when controlling for stress. The current findings converge with earlier work showing that distracted eating can drive overconsumption, which in turn can lead to long-term health implications.  Limitations, implications and potential directions are discussed.

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