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Brain-Training App Could Help Stop Snacking

Brain-Training App Could Help Stop Snacking

We’ve all dabbled in brain-training exercises for fun or to try and make ourselves smarter, but what about if we could use them to stop reaching for the biscuits in-between meals?

According to a small study from the Universities of Exeter and Cardiff, such an app could help with that, helping people to stay away from snack foods. They have published the research in the journal Appetite.

The study involved 82 people between the ages of 23 and 65, all of whom said that they indulged in high-calorie snacks at least three times in a week.

The study participants were divided into two groups and played a game created by psychologists at the universities. But each group’s game differed slightly.

One group played the game that had been designed to help train the user to stay away from snack foods by asking them to avoid pressing a key in the app when pictures of certain foods popped up. The other 41 participants – the control group – played the same game, but with pictures unrelated to food.

The game only lasts for 10 minutes and the users played it four times in a week. According to food journals kept by all of the participants, during that test week, no change was seen in the food intake of the control group. The test group, however, lost an average of 0.7kg (1.5lb) and were consuming about 220 fewer calories each day.

Furthermore, the results were seen to last up to six months later, with most of the test group maintaining their new healthy habits!

Study lead Dr Natalia Lawrence said that although the research is still in its early days and larger studies are still needed, she believes the game could help some people change their eating habits for good.

“It is free, easy to do, and 88% of our participants said they would be happy to keep doing it,” she added. “This opens up exciting possibilities for new behaviour change interventions based on underlying psychological processes.”

Dr Lawrence concluded by explaining this study shows how something as simple as a free app could change people’s everyday eating behaviour. We’ll be looking forward to when it’s in the app stores!

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