Health implications of Binge Watching Entertainment Media

Robin Tucker, PhD, RDPrincipal Investigator: Robin Tucker, PhD, RD, Assistant Professor, MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Morgan Ellithorpe, PhD. Assistant Professor, MSU Department of Advertising and Public Relations
Allison Eden, PhD. Assistant Professor, MSU Department of Communication
Michele Nikolai, MS, RD, CSP. Clinical Nutrition Manager, Sparrow Health System 

The impact of media use on health is well-documented. However, little is known about binge watching – exposure to multiple episodes of a television show or movies in a single day, despite 70% of Americans reporting this behavior. Preliminary survey data from this research team suggests that binge watching is associated with sleep curtailment, as well as with less healthy food choices. The next step is to move beyond self-report data, and to include objective measures of sleep, diet, and media use. The goal of this research program is to provide recommendations for physicians, dietitians, and other practitioners in discussing media use with patients.

Aim 1: To examine the relationship between binge watching and sleep disturbances
Aim 2: To test the relationship between binge watching, unhealthy diet choices, and sedentary behavior
Aim 3: To explore possible moderating factors, including type/genre of media, prior content exposure, related health variables such as BMI, and demographic variables such as age, gender, and race/ethnicity.

Interest in the effects of media use on health outcomes like sleep and dietary intake has increased recently; however, methodological limitations make drawing conclusions difficult. The proposed study will objectively measure sleep, as subjective and objective measures do not always agree, and dietary intake is typically limited to concurrent eating occasions while media is being consumed, ignoring the possibility of later compensation for calories consumed. Knowledge gained will provide information to practitioners to facilitate conversations about media use, including binge watching.