Online game to ‘lose weight, control snacking’

Washington DC, Jun 26 (ANI): A team of researchers has come up with an online computer game that can help you shed weight and reduce your food intake.

Psychologists at the University of Exeter and Cardiff University have today published a study that shows that participants lost an average of 0.7kg and consumed around 220 fewer calories a day whilst undergoing the week of training.

The research opens up exciting possibilities that “brain training” techniques specifically targeting problematic behaviours, such as overeating and drinking alcohol, might help people to take control.

The team developed a simple online computer game that trains people to resist unhealthy snack foods. The game requires people to repeatedly avoid pressing on pictures of certain images (e.g. of biscuits), whilst responding to other images (e.g. fruit, clothes), and therefore trains people to associate calorie-dense foods with “stopping.”

The study found that 41 adults who completed four 10-minute sessions of the training online lost a small but significant amount of weight and ate fewer calories (estimated from food diaries).

The training also reduced how much the calorie-dense “stop” foods were liked. The reduction in weight and unhealthy snacking was maintained six months after the study according to participants’ self-report.

Lead researcher Natalia Lawrence said that the findings are among the first to suggest that a brief, simple computerised tool can change people’s everyday eating behaviour, adding that this research is still in its infancy and the effects are modest.

The study is published in the journal Appetite. (ANI)

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