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Can a computergenerated avatar motivate people to exercise more and eat a healthier diet
<p> Can a computer-generated avatar motivate people to exercise more and eat a healthier diet?</p>

Can Virtual Reality Help Weight Loss?

Can an avatar in a virtual environment contribute to weight loss in the real world?

“Virtual reality is a powerful computer simulation of real situations in which the user interact as avatar and it can be used as support for a weight loss program” said Dr. Antonio Giordano and Dr. Giuseppe Russo of Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Philadelphia), in a study just published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.

In the world, at least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Over 60 percent of all Americans are overweight or obese, and the United States is second only to Mexico in terms of the obesity of the population. By contrast, in Italy, about 1 in 10 adults are obese and the adult obesity rates are anticipated to increase by 5 percent in the next 10 years. It is very difficult to keep the weight off.

“In this pilot study, we have created different virtual scenes where an avatar has to live everyday tasks such as walking on a treadmill or healthy grocery shopping,” said Giordano and Russo.

They created a DVD showing an overweight avatar living different virtual daily situations. The team enrolled eight overweight American women and demonstrated that the DVD helped the participants gather new information on how to lose weight.

“This study represents how virtual reality can contribute to behavioral improvement of human health,” the researchers concluded.

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