How is satiety affected when consuming food while working on a computer?
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More people working at offices are choosing to eat meals at their desks making “desktop dining” an increasingly common phenomenon. There has been substantial research undertaken on the role distraction and stress on people’s eating behaviour. Previous studies have reported that environmental distractors such as television viewing can influence meal intake and subsequent snack intake. However, the impact of stressful mental tasks on eating behaviour have received relatively less attention, focusing only on subsequent meal intake or current snack intake. This study sets out to determine whether eating while working influenced current meal energy intake. This research also examined the roles played by individual eating trait profile by evaluating the relationship between dietary restraint status and energy intake. A crossover experimental design was used in this study recruiting 43 normal weight adults (14 males and 29 females). The participants were required to eat pizza: quietly alone (control) and while working on a computer (work). Measurements assessed in this study included BMI, energy intake, state anxiety using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), stress levels (pre- and post-eating), and appetite (before and after both work and control sessions). Besides these measurements, restrained eating behaviour was also determined before eating using The Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ). The findings showed that consuming food while working on a computer significantly increased stress but had no influence on energy intake compared to control. However, post-eating hunger level was significantly higher in the work group when comparing to the control group. In terms of hunger level, hunger levels decreased significantly from pre- to post-eating for both work and control conditions as expected. In addition, no significant relationship was observed between restrained eating behaviour and energy intake in both work and control conditions. These results suggest that eating while working can affect satiety of normal weight participants as indicated by the significant difference in post-meal hunger levels between work and control conditions.