Online Brain Game Reduces Meat Consumption

The UK Federal government recently committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050 in the face of growing public concern about the weather change and the effect on human being life and health. The highly respected UK Committee on Climate Change advises that individuals can cut their diet-related emissions by 35 percent by switching from a high-meat diet to a low-meat one. Meat production is a major contributor to climate change and avoiding meat and dairy products is currently one of the solitary biggest ways to reduce your environmental effect on the earth.

Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary have become increasingly popular and from the vegan sausage move to the increasing number of flexitarians, people are being affected to improve what they eat. Around a third of UK adults now say they are trying to reduce their meat intake but many still find meat hard to forgo due to flavor or convenience. The University of Exeter research shows that ‘brain training’ techniques that have helped people reduce their consumption of unhealthy snack foods and lose weight, are a good idea in resisting meats also. The researchers, led by Dr. Natalia Lawrence, have developed a simple online computer game that trains people to resist meats.

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The game requires visitors repeatedly avoid pressing on pictures of certain images (e.g. beefburger), whilst giving an answer to other images (e.g. fruit), and for that reason trains visitors to associate meats with ‘stopping’. The new study, released in the journal Appetite, has found that 43 adults who completed four 10-minute sessions of working out online showed a bigger drop in meat intake than 32 adults who completed a non-meat version of working out. The training also reduced how much meat and processed foods were liked. The University of Exeter research team is rolling out a smartphone app version of the food ‘stop’ training called food, which is designed for free on Google and Apple stores.

App users can pick which foods they would like to teach themselves to withstand, e.g. meats, fast food, or cake. The App has over 85,000 downloads and for weight loss previously featured on Channel 4’s “how to lose weight well” and BBC One’s “The Truth About Obesity”. Download the App for Android or iOS. Eighty-one adults from the school and wider community aged 18-65 who ate meats and got some desire to lessen their meat intake were involved in the study.

Participants conducted the study completely online. They provided ratings of how frequently they ate meat and exactly how much they liked meat (and other foods) before, and a month following the training, that they completed online at home or work. These were randomly assigned to receive the active (meat-related) or control-training intervention. Results showed that individuals in the active group consumed less meat and reported lower ‘liking’ of foods-including meat-than the control group.

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