Researchers made a brain-training app to help break junk food habits

The University of Exeter has published a brain-training app for Android and iOS called 'Food Trainer' that is designed to help users break their junk food habits. Data from the app was used for a new study on whether this kind of brain-training application can actually improve one's eating habits — and, according to the researchers, it can.

Using an eight-point scale, the study found that using the FoodT app was able to reduce users' junk food consumption by an average of one point. The benefit was observed when the FoodT app was used approximately once daily for a month, though those who used the app more often experienced greater changes in their eating habits.

The app involves tapping a food item on the phone's display when it is surrounded by a green circle, but not tapping it when it is surrounded by a red circle. Junk foods are put in the red circles, while healthier food options like vegetables are put in the green circles. Users are also given the option of choosing specific food categories they may struggle with.

For example, the app will allow users to focus specifically on alcoholic beverages or combine alcohol with other things like bread, cookies, and other poorer food choices. The app is free to download on Apple's App Store and on the Google Play Store.

The study involved 1,234 participants who were told to use FoodT at least 10 times. Around half of the participants actually followed that requirement, and the researchers say that overall they experienced a small increase in the amount of healthy food consumed and lost around a pound of weight.