Want to lose weight? Try playing Tetris. No, really.

By Seriously Science | May 5, 2014 6:00 am
Photo:flickr/andromache

Photo:flickr/andromache

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you probably know the evil that is the craving. It can strike anytime, is really hard to ignore, and can leave you with a bigger butt than you started with. But what if there were a simple way to drown out the craving — one that was actually enjoyable? Well, these scientists are here to grant your very wish! They waited until participants were struck with cravings and told them to play Tetris. And behold! Those who played that oh-so-seductive game experienced reduced cravings compared to their pitiable controls, who were stuck with a “Game Loading” screen.

Playing ‘Tetris’ reduces the strength, frequency and vividness of naturally occurring cravings.

“Elaborated Intrusion Theory (EI) postulates that imagery is central to craving, therefore a visually based task should decrease craving and craving imagery. This study provides the first laboratory test of this hypothesis in naturally occurring, rather than artificially induced, cravings. Participants reported if they were experiencing a craving and rated the strength, vividness and intrusiveness of their craving. They then either played ‘Tetris’ or they waited for a computer program to load (they were told it would load, but it was designed not to). Before task completion, craving scores between conditions did not differ; after, however, participants who had played ‘Tetris’ had significantly lower craving and less vivid craving imagery. The findings support EI theory, showing that a visuospatial working memory load reduces naturally occurring cravings, and that Tetris might be a useful task for tackling cravings outside the laboratory. Methodologically, the findings show that craving can be studied in the laboratory without using craving induction procedures.”

Related content:
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me
  • Josh Neilson

    That’s a lousy control group. Being stuck with a perpetual “game loading” screen is wicked annoying, and combined with the anxiety of food cravings undoubtedly leads to a different experience than being left alone with ones cravings.

    • OnlyOneWing

      Good point lol

    • Xio Gen

      It’s called a control. It’s to test whether it’s the focus or the actual playing of the game that can reduce cravings. Because if it’s just focus, then meditation would be just as effective. But it isn’t.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Anna Mcd

    This is purely a distractor technique , need to test this against other games for this research to be truly valid

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Matt Daly

      Took the words out of my mouth

      • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Anna Mcd

        thanks matt

    • Xio Gen

      I was going to ask if 2048 would work just as well. Tetris is a good choice as a baseline for video games as it’s a game that’s simple and everyone knows how to play. It can also be played in a single sitting. Games like RPGs or shooters have to be played in multiple sittings. The idea is that a craving comes on suddenly, so you counteract it by doing something that can be done quickly. Obviously there needs to be more research and study, preferably with lots of different types of games, but the conclusion is still valid. The only thing I’m worried about is if the subject is a regular gamer and would then cause a conditioning effect to become hungry when they play video games.

  • Chrissy Morton

    Interesting :) Get smart while playing, Amazing approach.
    My sister was very bulky almost one year ago even she went for therapies from different doctors. But what she has experienced is that self control and home based techniques are far good to be applied as compared to the medication. weightlossedge have very useful information to get smart and be smart.

  • Chris Brown

    Really nice blog, yes we have to be smart at what we are aiming to achieve. to win we must follow a strategy what lead us to lose weight.Losing weight is not easy.My strategy is a combination of exercise and weight loss
    supplement I got from stopdietingandloseweight. com. The good thing is that I can eat everything I want to.

  • Chris Brown

    i have been
    dieting for years but couldnt lose a single pound. After that I started to workout and
    it toned my body but my weight remain same. then a good friend recommended me stopdietingandloseweight.
    com and i lost about 10 kg in 2 months :)

  • Alverta Sault

    I’ve been overweight all my life and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 24 pounds in one month without much exercise and it has been a life changer. I’m a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I’ve been doing then I’d be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at oceanflowers82@gmail.com and I’ll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I’ve tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day

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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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