FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. — The phone addiction problem may be getting to be a bit much. A new survey finds that a third of Americans can’t get through a meal without looking at their mobile devices.
Researchers from the weight loss service Nutrisystem commissioned a poll of 2,000 adults last month to determine how distracted we are at the dinner table.
Twenty-nine percent indicated their phone joins them for every single meal, while more than half said they bring their device to the table most of the time. Only 17 percent said they never bring their phone with them to a meal.
The figures were highest for millennials. Thirty-five percent of respondents between ages 18-35 need their phone with them at the table all the time, though that number drops for older age groups.
“What we’re eating, how much, and how often—those are the things we think about when we’re trying to lose weight. The part we probably focus less on, however, is how we eat,” says Courtney McCormick, a dietitian at Nutrisystem, in a press release. “And that is just as important. And it starts with putting down the phone and turning off the TV.”
Television was also an attention grabber during meals for participants. Nearly a third of those surveyed (72%) said they often watch the tube while eating. Perhaps the worst part about this figure is that people were more apt to say watching TV made a meal more enjoyable than talking to friends and family at the table.
Smartphones at the table have become so prevalent, people aren’t even watching what they’re putting in their mouths, researchers say. The survey found a third of participants eat so fast when they’re staring at a tablet or a TV that they didn’t even realize how fast they were scarfing down their food.
The researchers say this type of distraction not only prevents people from listening to their friends, but also their bodies — when they’re being told they’re full. The unhealthy practice could cause phone addicts to pack on unwanted pounds.
“Early research has shown that taking a mindful approach to eating may help you lose weight and consume fewer calories and fat,” says McCormick.
So if you’re one of the those who brings your device with you to the table, try leaving it on a different floor in your home, or put it somewhere out of sight and out of mind. It’ll be there when you’re finished. And at the very least, you’ll hear what your belly tells you.