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Food Apps Reduce Junk Food Intake

A brain-training app may help people eat less junk food.

Man using food apps while eating

Perhaps a few taps on a smartphone with food apps can help people zap some unhealthy foods from their diets. A study in Appetite found that 1,234 participants who used the FoodT app (available on Google Play) about once a day for a month reduced their junk food consumption by an average of 1 point on an 8-point scale. The scale ranged from eating four or more junk food items per day to eating just one or zero of these items per month.

How did the cookie crumble? Participants who consistently used the app went from eating junk food—such as sweets and chips—two to four times a week down to once a week.

The app was designed to train people to tap on images of healthy foods but to stop when they saw unhealthy snacks, creating a mental association between these foods and stopping. Overall, people who reported using the app more often also indicated larger changes in their food intake and greater losses in body weight. The findings are encouraging; free, easy-to-use technology that is available 24/7, like food apps, could help people turn around a lousy diet.

See also: An App to Help Kids Eat Better

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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