Computer Games and Food Cravings Have More in Common Than Once Thought, Study Shows

Summer is fast approaching, and us moms all know what that means — a season of no school and unhealthy eating. Considering that 90% of U.S. households regularly indulge in frozen desserts, it comes as no surprise that ice cream temptation is exceptionally high in the warmer months.

We all know how hard it can be to say no to our child’s plea for some ice cream because let’s be honest, we always want some ourselves. Despite knowing how important it is to start developing healthy eating habits from a young age, frankly, it is easier said than done.

However, there is a new computer game — I know, I know, but bear with me on this one! — that may make our jobs a little bit easier.

Psychologists at the University of Exeter, England have created an interesting game that helps teach children how to make healthy choices. The game is quite easy to play; the child has to press a button when a healthy food pops up on the screen and do nothing when junk food appears. Then, if the child gets it right, a happy face is shown with healthy food and a sad face with unhealthy food as a way to reinforce positive habits and behaviors.

The goal of the game is to change how the brain works. Lucy Porter, the lead researcher on the project, explains to Science Daily how the brain can be trained to create a healthier association with food:

“The sight of foods like chocolate can activate reward centers in the brain at the same time as reducing activity in self-control areas. Our training encourages people to make a new association — when they see unhealthy food, they stop.”

While this game surely won’t limit the number of ads for sugary food out there, it will give families the opportunity to control their cravings, Porter explains. After all, it is a free game and it may give your child satisfaction when they get rewarded with happy faces for choosing healthier foods — it is the little things that matter, right?

So moms, what do you all think? When released, will you try this out with your family?

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