Persuasive technology for overcoming food cravings and improving snack choices

A Hsu, J Yang, Y Yilmaz, MS Haque, C Can, Ann Blandford
in Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings, Journal article


A central challenge in weight management is the difficulty of overcoming desires for excessive and unhealthy food. Yet, studies show that when people are able to resist their desires for unhealthy choices, they experience pride and satisfaction. In order to alleviate the former and support the latter, we designed, implemented and tested a mobile application for improving snacking behavior. Our application delivers a food craving reduction intervention at the moment of need and allows users to track how often they successfully resisted cravings. Our craving reduction intervention is based on recent research that shows that food cravings can be reduced through imagery techniques. We conducted a week-long evaluation of our application, comparing the effectiveness of our application to a basic tracking application. We found that our imagery application significantly reduced both overall snacking and unhealthy snacking compared to a simple snack-tracking application. Copyright @ 2014 ACM.