Researchers Find That the Food App, A Junk Food Game, Helps People Eat Less And Lose Weight

Supplement Rant

According to new research, by using a brain-training app can help individuals eat less junk food, and therefore lose weight.

The app, named The Food Trainer (FoodT) helps train people to by making them tap on images that show healthy foods, but stop when they are shown unhealthy snacks. By doing this, an association grows between unhealthy foods and stopping.

The new study was created by researchers from the Exeter and Helsinki universities. The study found that when individuals played the app at least once a day for a month, there was ‘an average one-point reduction of junk food consumption on an eight-point scale.’ For reference, the scale ranges ‘from four or more item per day, to one or zero items per month.’

Generally speaking, those that used the app more claimed they had bigger changes in their food intake as well.

Out of the 1,234 participants in the study, half followed the recommended use of the app, playing the game at least 10 times. For all the participants, they had an average weight loss of at least half a kilogram, or just over one pound, while there was also a minor increase of eating healthy food as well.

Professor Natalie Lawrence, from the University of Exeter, said, “As an example, someone who ate each junk food two to four times a week reduced this to once a week, after using the app regularly for a month.”

She added, “Overall, the findings are really encouraging. The app is free and it only takes about four minutes per day—so it’s something people realistically can do—and our results suggest it is effective. There’s some evidence that the benefits were stronger for people who were more overweight.”

She also said, “We would expect to see this, because the app targets mechanisms that lead people to become overweight, such as the strong urges to approach and consume tempting junk foods.”

Dr. Matthias Aulbach, from the University of Helsinki, also shared, “For anyone with unhealthy eating habits – perhaps developed during lockdown – FoodT might be helpful.”

Published in Appetite Journal, the study used data from the FoodT app, where the app asked questions every so often about how often app users ate particular foods, alongside other consequential information such as weight and age.

What the findings implied was that by regularly using the app, there was a substantial link to beneficial changes in one’s eating habits.

According to Dr. Aulbach, “If you’re trying to teach the brain something new, it’s a good idea to space out the learning over multiple sessions. It may be helpful to do the training in different contexts—not just at home but at work and elsewhere, so the associations you learn don’t just relate to one location.”

“From our results it seems important that you do the training regularly and don’t just stop. So keep it interesting and relevant for yourself so you won’t get bored with it: personalize the app as far as possible and pick the foods that you find really hard to resist,” he suggested.

The researchers highlighted that the findings from their study should also be interpreted prudently, since they had no control group to compare the study’s participants with, nor did they consider other factors like the chance that the participants who did training were also more motivated to lose weight, which could have played a large part in the ending results.

One app user left a review on Google Play that read “Really useful. Seems to work on different levels whether it’s the green/red circle association of stop/go which psychologically makes you more aware, I’m not sure—but my cravings have reduced dramatically and I no longer eat in the evening mindlessly.”