Tetris Reduces Cravings for Fatty Foods and Alcohol, Study

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Cravings for food, alcohol and cigarettes can be lowered by playing Tetris for just three minutes, according to University of Plymouth study.

Psychologists said that the visual stimulation provided by the classic brain teaser distracts the mind of the users and does not give them the time to think about snacks, alcoholic drinks or cigarettes, eventually eliminating the cravings.

For the study, the researchers asked participants to report their cravings and score them based on strength, vividness and intrusiveness. Half of the participants played Tetris, while the other half were told that the game is still loading on their computers. Ultimately, the second group couldn't get a chance to play the game at all.

The researchers found that after three minutes the participants who belonged to the first group reported 24 percent less cravings when compared to the second group.

 "Episodes of craving normally only last a few minutes, during which time an individual is visualising what they want and the reward it will bring. Often those feelings result in the person giving in and consuming the very thing they are trying to resist," Professor Jackie Andrade said in a statement.

'But by playing Tetris, just in short bursts, you are preventing your brain creating those enticing images and without them the craving fades.'

The researchers said that the classic 1984 tile-matching game can be suggested to obese and overweight people who are struggling to stick to their diets, and to those with alcohol and cigarette related health problems.

"Feeling in control is an important part of staying motivated, and playing Tetris can potentially help the individual to stay in control when cravings strike," said Andrade. "It is something a person can quickly access, for the most part whether they are at work or at home, and replaces the feeling of stress caused by the craving itself."

The finding is published in the Appetite Journal.

Tetris was invented by programmer Alexey Pajitnov in the Soviet Union, primarily for home computers. But the game soon became a global phenomenon after it was introduced for the hand-held Nintendo Gameboy 1989. So far, more than 170 million copies of Tetris have been sold. 

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