August 4, 2014
The next time you’ve got a serious hankering for sugar, it may help to whip out your smartphone for a gaming break, new research in the journal Appetite finds.
Study participants—who were mostly women—described and rated the intensity of their urges before researchers asked them to play a round of Tetris. For half of them, the game wouldn’t load. The group who did get to play slashed their cravings by 24%, compared with a meager 6% reduction among those who didn’t.
“When people crave something, they’re visualizing the sensation and pleasure of indulging in a specific food,” says study co-author Jackie Andrade, PhD, of Plymouth University in England. “The game blocks the mental imagery that sustains a craving, since it’s hard to play Tetris and picture some-thing else at the same time.” Hit the app store so you’ll be ready by that 4 o’clock hunger pang!
Tetris not for you? Any visually absorbing video game should do the trick, including Candy Crush and Bejeweled.