BRAIN-training games also help us to shed unwanted pounds, research found.
Apps and online activities can boost willpower — making us choose healthier foods.
Early trials show they can boost people’s willpower, helping them slash their calorie intake by 200-a-day.
Scientists they participants shed up to two pounds in as little as a month.
And it could prove a much more popular approach than nanny state bans, the researchers believe.
Professor Chris Chambers, from Cardiff University, said: “Smartphones are the most promising way to deliver boosting interventions for encouraging healthy eating.
“They can be used during times when we all have a few minutes to spare, such as on the commute to work.”
The simple games involve users having to quickly push a button when shown healthy foods, such as bananas or carrots.
But users must ignore it when shown sugary and fatty food, such as chocolate or crisps. It should make junk food seem less appealing.
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Known as a “boosting intervention”, it aims to help people to make the right choice.
And it should be more effective than “subtle environmental nudges that people cannot control”, the researchers write in the Royal Society Open Science journal.
They plan a trial on 50,000 volunteers later this year using an app that can be personalised by including foods of which they want to eat less or more.