Researchers suggest that when it comes to weight maintenance virtual reality beats face-to-face meetings. The opposite can be said when talking about weight loss.
Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., the one who leads the study said that weight loss has better results in face-to-face compared to virtual reality, but for weight maintenance virtual reality seems to be better.
In the US, around 36 percent of Americans belongs to the obese people and researchers noted that there are many factors why most of them won’t lose weight. For those participates in face-to-face meetings; some of the reasons might be travel, conflict with work and home, need for childcare, and loss of anonymity.
For this study, researchers 20 overweight and obese people, wherein they went on for months weight loss program. In the first three weeks, the participants were subjected to face-to-face meeting. After that, they held their meeting in the virtual reality world.
The virtual reality weight maintenance program through the use of the popular game called Second Life, which serves as communication purpose for the participants and the researchers.
All the participants were asked to create their “avatars”, a virtual representation of themselves in the virtual world. The avatars are capable of interacting with other avatars, as well as navigate through the virtual world of Second Life.
Voice communication can be done through headset, allowing one person to talk with another guy in the group or participate in a group discussion. The researchers provided an island in the virtual reality world wherein the meetings were held.
Sullivan claimed that anyone who wants to participate in real-life scenarios without real-life outcomes can use virtual reality.
As an example, avatars can learn and practice meal planning, grocery shopping, and dietary control whenever they eat at restaurants and holiday parties to as much as they want in the virtual reality world compared with the time-limited clinic meeting.