A video game developed by the University of Exeter and Cardiff University could help people lose weight and quell the impulse to snack.
Keeping at a healthy weight is vital for people with diabetes, while being overweight puts people at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This new computer game targets behavioural problems people have with food, such as drinking excessive alcohol and overeating.
41 adults completed four 10-minute sessions of the training online. The game requires users to not press repeatedly on certain images of unhealthy foods, but respond to images such as fruit. People then associate high-calorie foods with “stopping”.
Participants on average lost 0.7kg after a week of training, consuming 220 fewer calories. Six months afterwards, this reduction in weight was maintained, as was the cessation of unhealthy snacking.
If participants had problems controlling food intake they had to report this on a screening questionnaire, as well as reporting their regular intake at least three times a week.
“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,” said lead author Natalia Lawrence, University of Exeter.

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