- An online computer game developed by psychologists to train people to resist snacking on junk food resulted in weight loss for participants in a recent study.
- It’s reported that the “brain training” game encourages people to associate calorie-dense foods with ‘stopping’ by requiring participants to repeatedly avoid pressing on pictures of unhealthy foods (such as cookies) while responding to other images (such as fruit) in order to “win”.
- The control group in the experiment undertook the same training, but with pictures of non-food objects, such as pens.
- According to the results, those who undertook the ‘food’ training lost .07kg during the week of training and ate 220 less calories a day (according to their food diaries).
- Notably, a reduction in calorie-dense ‘stop foods’ was recorded, with the participants’ self-reports indicating that the reduction in weight and unhealthy snacking was maintained for 6 months after the study.
- The study was led by Dr Natalia Lawrence at the University of Exeter and Cardiff, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and the results published in the journal ‘Appetite’.
- According to Dr Lawrence, the results show that a computerised tool can change people’s eating behaviours and that a cognitive training approach is worth pursuing, but that larger-scale studies are required.