New Video Game Might Just Help You Make Healthier Food Choices

"We need to design innovative ways to support people to live more healthily."

Did you start 2017 off with the intention to live a healthier lifestyle? Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK might have just the thing to make your resolution easier. 

Dr. Natalia Lawrence, a cognitive neuroscientist at the university, and her team developed a game that aims to help people curb junk food and drink cravings and choose healthy options instead. According to the team, all you have to do is play for about 10 minutes a day. 

The game is called FoodTrainer and works by flashing pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods. The user is asked to react to healthy images by clicking on them while not reacting to the unhealthy ones. It's designed to train the users' brains to suppress unhealthy decisions in real life. 

To test if it actually works, a study was conducted where 83 adult volunteers played the game four times a week for less than 10 minutes each time. By the end of the week, they found the participants ate 220 fewer calories on average per day. Not bad for just a few minutes of playtime. 

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Dr. Lawrence was inspired to design the game after she used brain imaging to study how the brain's reward system responded to photos of unhealthy food. 

"It's very exciting to see that our free and simple training can change eating habits and have a positive impact on some people's lives," she said in a press release. "It's a tool to help people make healthier choices. In an age where unhealthy food is so abundant and easily available and obesity is a growing health crisis, we need to design innovative ways to support people to live more healthily. We are optimistic that the way this app is devised will actually encourage people to opt for healthy food such as fruit and vegetables rather than junk food."

This unique way of cutting out food with less nutritional value is great for those working toward an overall healthier lifestyle. Of course the game should be supplemented with plenty of exercise, hydration and balanced meals so you can be your best you. 

The game can be downloaded for free as an app on Android phones or played on a computer. The researchers are currently crowdfunding to develop an iPhone version as well. 

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