How Too Much Television Can Make You Gain Weight

Television has often been blamed for making you gain weight. Is there any evidence of this being true, or is it just an easy excuse?

Tempting Commercials

When you’re in your pajamas and ready for bed, one of those fast food commercials pops up. Then you’re struck with an overwhelming hunger that you usually satisfy one of two ways. Either you make a fast food run and scarf the junk food down on the way back home, or you scrounge through your kitchen and eat whatever you can find in a vain attempt to satisfy your craving. Either way, you almost always overeat to quench your burger and fries craving that you didn’t even have until the commercial came on.

Mindless Munching

Studies have shown that people who munch away while watching television eat considerably more than think they do. You know how you shovel popcorn in without even thinking while you’re at the movies? Watching television has the same effect on your eating habits. The aforementioned fast food commercials also contribute to you scurrying around hunting something to nibble. The same way that the “let’s all go to the lobby” blips in the movie theater make you think you’re hungry, television food commercials do the same thing.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, the following percentages of Americans are overweight:

  • 34 percent of people 20 years old and older are overweight.
  • Another 34 percent of people 20 years and older are obese. A person is considered obese if their their Body Mass Index is 30 or higher. Body Mass Index is a calculation of what your weight should be, based on your height.
  • 18 percent of teenagers between the ages of twelve to nineteen are overweight.
  • 20 percent of children aged six to eleven are obese.
  • 10 percent of children are obese.

The presence of television sets in American homes has steadily risen from tens of thousands to hundreds of millions. In addition, Nielson Media Research reports that the average American household has more than two televisions.


Television is not the only reason for the fattening of America, but it is a contributing factor. Some simple changes can help you limit the chances of gaining weight from watching too much television.

  • Keep televisions out of your bedrooms. 
  • Do not eat in front of the television.
  • Turn the TV off if you’re not watching it. This way you will not be drawn in by the latest celebrity gossip.
  • Limit TV viewing time, especially for children.

While watching television can contribute to weight gain, there are some television programs that can actually help you lose weight. Comcast On Demand has Exercise TV, and channel FitTV has exercise programs led by professional instructors. If you had to pay those instructors to help you in your exercise program it would be extremely expensive. However, you can exercise with the best instructors for free on television.

Television can make you gain weight if you let it. A few minor changes can prevent this from happening. In fact, if you carefully choose what you watch, television can actually help you lose weight. The key is to think before you watch.


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