People who watch excessive amounts of TV tend to eat more unhealthy foods and might not understand the foundations of a healthy diet, a study says.

Individuals who watch more TV have a more fatalistic view toward eating well and tend to think that nutrition is too difficult to understand, leading them to give up trying to eat well, the findings showed.

"I found people who watch more TV had both a poorer understanding of proper nutrition and a more fatalistic view toward eating well compared to those who watched less TV," said Temple Northup from University of Houston.

"In turn, those two items predicted snacking behaviours," Northup added.

Those with a more fatalistic view toward eating well tend to eat more snack foods.

Because consumers are inundated with advertising for unhealthy food and messages about the latest trends in what you should (or should not) eat, they develop these poor attitudes towards and knowledge about eating well, Northup suggested.

A common explanation for the relationship between television use and unhealthy diet is that TV watching is sedentary and encourages snacking.

"I wanted to investigate underlying psychological reasons that this relationship might exist," Northup added.

The study involved 591 participants.

"It is important to understand how people develop knowledge about nutrition, including examining nutritional messages found within the media," the authors pointed out.

This study was published in the International Journal of Communication and Health.