Imagine a game that trains your brain to resist junk food ... well that's exactly what a group of University of Wollongong researchers has come up with.
Researchers from the School of Psychology are developing an interactive gaming app, called NoGo, which uses brain training to help people make healthier food choices.
Associate Professor Stuart Johnstone said pilot testing had shown encouraging results and now researchers wanted people to participate in a two-week trial.
"The aim of the game is to try and help people strengthen that impulse control muscle in relation to unhealthy foods," he said.
"We've based it on available research, but have gamified that to come up with a game that someone will actually want to play and won't find too tiresome or too much of a chore.
"If it's fun, if it's something they enjoy doing from a gaming perspective, and if it's helping them make better food choices at the same time, then we're on the way to achieving our goal."
Prof Johnstone said by playing the game for 10 minutes each day, people should start to change their way of thinking.
"In the game, we are presenting people with a whole bunch of rapidly presented images that fall into two categories - unhealthy foods such as chips, chocolate and takeaway foods, and healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables," he said.
"When people see the healthy images they have to tap the screen very quickly; when they see unhealthy images they have to withhold from tapping.
"In this way their brain is trained to tap and approach things that are healthy and develop restraint around things that are not healthy - ultimately we hope that will follow through to their real-life food choices."
Prof Johnstone said he hoped the app would eventually provide health benefits to people who struggled to maintain a healthy weight.
Researchers need around 70 people aged over 13 to take part in the trial.
Those interested can email tjb922@uow mail.edu.au for further information.