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Virtual Reality and Weight Loss

by Ryan Halvorson on Sep 19, 2013

Making News

Can watching a virtual-reality avatar help someone lose weight? Scientists from George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, in Washington, DC, think so.

In a two-part study, researchers first asked 128 women if they thought it would be valuable to use avatars to model weight loss behaviors. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they “would participate in a program that used an avatar to help practice weight loss skills in a virtual environment.”

In the second study component, researchers recruited eight women to participate in a virtual program--involving avatars--for 4 weeks. By the end of the intervention, the women had lost an average of 3.7 pounds. Subjects said they would recommend the program because it had helped them improve their fitness and nutrition behaviors.

“This investigation revealed a high level of interest in an avatar-based program, with formative work indicating promise,” the authors stated. “Given the high costs associated with in vivo exposure and practice, this study demonstrates the potential use of avatar-based technology as a tool for modeling weight loss behaviors.”

The study was published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology (2013; 7 [4], 1057-65).

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About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the chief content officer for Fit Scribe Media (; contributing editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; director of group training at Bird Rock Fit in La Jolla, CA; a Master Instructor for Metabolic Effect and the creator of, a lifestyle organization dedicated to finding ways to achieve improved fitness, nutrition and healthy living habits in 30 minutes or less. He is an internationally recognized speaker and has written for publications such as DETAILS and GQ.