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Could Gaming Help People Eat Better?

Gamers who virtually sped to veggies lost weight in real life.

As we become better informed about the potential pitfalls of too much screen time, findings in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine suggest that sitting in front of a computer to play a diet-focused game may drive people to trade in their candy for cauliflower!

Researchers hailing from Philadelphia’s Drexel University College of Arts and Sciences recruited 106 overweight adults to play Diet DASH, a computer game where players are required to move quickly through a virtual supermarket and reject sugary treats in favor of more wholesome choices. Players gamed daily for 6 weeks, then once per week for 2 weeks.

Those with strong sweet cravings lost an average of 3.1% of their body weight over 8 weeks. The frequent dietary brain-training practiced via the computer game appeared to help tame sugar cravings by strengthening the part of the brain that fends off the impulse for sugary foods and, in turn, likely contributed to the slim-down among gamers. No word yet of a version of Grand Theft Auto where users speed for apples.

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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