If you’ve ever been guilty of keeping a TV on during mealtime, no one’s judging you (actually, that’s not true — this is 2015 and everyone is judging you), but a new study suggests that you’re doing more than missing out on quality time. You might be actively making your kid fatter.
Researchers at the University Of Illinois Family Resilience Center did the full Big Brother treatment on 60 families as they ate dinner in a mock kitchen. Some of the families experienced a noisy vacuum running in the next room, while others ate in peace and quiet. No, it’s not weird that you want to know what was served: Pizzas (cheese, pepperoni, and vegetable), Oreos, carrot sticks, water, and sugary drinks.
What is weird is the role noise seemed to play on who ate what. In the noisy environment, kids interacted with their parents less, spent more time on their phones, and shoveled more cookies and soda into their faces. In the quiet environment, kids talked with their parents and opted for more carrots. Pizza consumption was consistent between both groups, because pizza is awesome.
The parents don’t get off the hook, either. Those dealing with the noise were similarly distracted from meaningful conversation with their kids, more likely to get up from the table early, and spent more time on their own phones. They weren’t necessarily more likely to eat cookies over carrots, though, because they’re older, wiser, and know that cookies just fill stomach space that’s better saved for more pizza.