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Video Snacking: another cause of the obesity epidemic?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD
What’s your video du jour? A YouTube video collage of W.’s Bushisms from his two terms? Hmm, that sounds great – I’ll snack on that, thanks.

I was first introduced to the phrase ‘video snacking’ in a January, 2008 edition of Time magazine. According to Time, video snacking is defined as “the practice of watching snippets of video on a computer or other small screen”.

Apparently, this activity is particularly popular during the lunch hour at the office – as noted by a significant spike in usage of sites such as YouTube,, and others. I must admit, that Travis and I are both guilty of video snacking – particularly while eating our lunch at the office. In fact, we were doing it long before it was coined video snacking.

Unfortunately, given that we (like many others) spend most of our days seated in front of a computer, it probably isn’t the wisest decision to continue sitting during our lunch break. This is particularly relevant given that watching television, and presumably videos on the computer as well, can actually induce what has been called hypometabolism.

Research conducted in the 1990s suggested that the number of calories you expend while watching television is actually less than if you simply sat and did nothing at all. That is, watching television appears to slow your metabolism as though you are about to hibernate for the winter.

Thus, not only will video snacking reduce your non-leisure time physical activity, but it may actually slow down your metabolism – leading to progressively reduced daily energy expenditure. Thankfully, since Travis and I are not very proactive, we often walk to the local grocery store to get our lunch – thereby likely offsetting the hypometabolic effect of the video snacking that often follows. What will the rest of you do to offset your hypometabolic video snacking?

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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