If you are worried about gaining extra kilos, playing a simple online game developed by researchers in Britain may help you stay fit. The new computerised game can help people control their snacking impulses and lose weight, the researchers said.
"These results are among the first to suggest that a brief, simple computerised tool can change people's everyday eating behaviour. It is exciting to see the effects of our lab studies translated to the real world," said lead author Natalia Lawrence from University of Exeter.
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 team 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.
The training also reduced how much the calorie-dense 'stop' foods were liked.
The reduction in weight and unhealthy snacking was maintained for six months after the study.
"Our results suggest that this cognitive training approach is worth pursuing: It is free, easy to do and 88 percent of our participants said they would be happy to keep doing it. This opens up exciting possibilities for new behaviour change interventions based on underlying psychological processes."
83 adults from the local community aged 23-65 with BMIs ranging from 21 to 46 (healthy to obese) were involved in the study.
Participants had to report regular intake (at least three times per week) of energy-dense snack foods (crisps, chocolate, biscuits) and some problems controlling their food intake on a screening questionnaire.
The study appeared in the journal Appetite.