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New brain training app to help weight loss

Press Association logoPress Association 15/01/2017 Rod Minchin

A new phone app which trains the brain to stop reaching for alcohol and unhealthy food can lead to weight loss and cut energy intake by more than 200 calories a day, claim UK psychologists.

Academics have found that less than 10 minutes a day of 'brain training' using a game they have devised can slow impulses to reach for unhealthy snacks and reduce calorie intake.

Dr Natalia Lawrence's Food Trainer app, which used neuro-science and lab trials to devise a proven method of curbing unhealthy food intake, is being launched this week.

The app, which is free, is being launched in a month when people traditionally make resolutions to lose weight and cut down on junk food.

A study of 83 adults showed that people who played the game online just four times in one week lost weight and ate an average of 220 kcal less per day - roughly equivalent to a chocolate-iced doughnut.

Academics at the University of Exeter found in trials that playing the game without distractions for a few minutes a day can train the brain to control impulses to reach for chocolate, cakes, crisps or alcohol.

The app will allow dieters or those who want to cut consumption of junk food or alcohol try it and will also generate more anonymous data to help psychologists measure how effective an app version of the brain-training programme can be.

Dr Lawrence, a cognitive neuroscientist, designed the app after using brain imaging to study how the brain's reward system responded to pictures 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.

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