Online computer game to help combat weight gain

A simple new computerised game could help people control their snacking impulses and lose weight. 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 team of researchers, led by Dr Natalia Lawrence, have 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 team previously showed that this training reduces how much food people eat in laboratory tests.

Now their new study, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and published in the journal Appetite, has 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.

These effects were observed relative to a control group of 42 adults who completed the same “stop versus go” training, but involving pictures of non-food objects (e.g. pens).

You can read more about the study.

 



More articles     Posted on: 02 July 2015