Liverpool digital agency, Connect, has been appointed by Cardiff University to design and build a new app called “Restrain” to test whether it’s possible to achieve weight loss through a type of brain training involving simple games.

Project lead Chris Chambers from the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), said:

“Previous research has suggested that cognitive training could be a successful method of weight loss. However, most of this research has involved small groups of healthy weight people. We want to find out if it can work in the real world and help those who are living with overweight or obesity. This is especially important now as so many people have struggled to maintain a healthy weight during the pandemic.

“To see if cognitive training really can change people’s attitudes to food and encourage weight loss, we plan to recruit thousands of participants worldwide to use a specially designed app. It will be the largest study of its kind.”

Connect’s Managing Director, Janet Symes said

“We’re really exciting to be involved in this potentially ground breaking work. It has been a fascinating process for Connect to be involved in the project. We’re all really looking forward to seeing what the results will be.”

The new app, for smartphone and tablet devices, is designed to let users participate for small periods of time, whenever it’s convenient for them. Users will be asked to complete different short tasks each day, over a period of three months. Each daily session will take 10-15 minutes.

Participants can personalise their experience by selecting foods they want to eat more of and less of to include in their training.

Users will also be asked to weigh themselves once a week and to report which foods they have consumed. The research team will also measure attitudes towards foods, craving and exercise to see how these change with training.

To be eligible for the app, you must be over 18 years of age, have a body mass index of 25 or over, have no past or current eating disorder, not be pregnant and not follow a restrictive diet (e.g. fruitarian, raw vegan). The app is currently available for Android users only.

If you would like to get involved please download Restrain from the Google Play store:

Twitter: @RestrainProject

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