Psychologists look out! There’s a new form of cognitive, visual and behavior therapy coming that may be quicker, easier, less expensive and simpler than weekly therapy. This new “behavior change intervention” in a simple computer game could improve the ease and success of cognitive-behavior therapy for those needing to consistently make better choices leading to healthier lifestyles.
“Psychologists at the University of Exeter and Cardiff University have 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.” Those in the study group kept this weight loss off at a 6 month check point after the study ended. That’s pretty significant if you ask me!
“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.”
Our eating habits, good and bad, are a result of choices all day long. What we chose to eat (calorie laden, processed, fresh or not, microwaved or freshly cooked foods), how we eat it (standing, on the run, with friends or family, in front of TV), and how much /how often we eat (many small meals, snacking or grazing all day, late night eating, fasting all day then eating a very large meal, or just consuming larger portions then our bodies need), all contribute to our nutritional health and weight.
“Eighty-three 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. Most participants were recruited from the NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility’s Exeter 10,000 participant panel.”
(Crisps in England are the same as potato chips in the US, as well as biscuits in England are equivalent to cookies in the US.)
I think it’s a much easier method than snapping a rubber band on your wrist when you have a thought of a food indulgence, and will alleviate the guilt you feel when you’re tempted to make an unhealthy food choice. It’s like a electronic method of strengthening your conscience and desire for healthier foods. Better, I think, than diet pills, or paying for therapy is you have no other underlying psychological issues, right?
Where can I get this game?
Quotes taken from the article “Online computer game can help shed weight, reduce food intake“, from Science Daily.
- Natalia S. Lawrence, Frederick Verbruggen, Sinead Morrison, Rachel C. Adams, Christopher D. Chambers. Stopping to food can reduce intake. Effects of stimulus-specificity and individual differences in dietary restraint. Appetite, 2015; 85: 91 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.11.006