Improving weight maintenance using virtual reality (Second Life)

J Nutr Educ Behav. May-Jun 2013;45(3):264-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2012.10.007.


Objective: Compare weight loss and maintenance between a face-to-face (FTF) weight management clinic and a clinic delivered via virtual reality (VR).

Methods: Participants were randomized to 3 months of weight loss with a weekly clinic delivered via FTF or VR and then 6 months' weight maintenance delivered with VR. Data were collected at baseline and 3 and 6 months for weight and process variables. Twenty overweight and obese individuals (31.1 ± 3.6 years of age; body mass index, 32.8 ± 5.1; 85% females; 20% minorities) responded to advertisement and met inclusion criteria. Diets (1,200-1,800 kcal/d) used prepackaged meals, fruits and vegetables, and physical activity (300 min/wk).

Results: Weight loss was significantly greater for FTF at 10.8% compared with 7.6% for VR (P < .05). However, weight maintenance was significantly greater for VR at 14.0% compared with 9.5% for FTF (P < .05).

Conclusions and implications: Virtual reality compares favorably with FTF for weight loss and may facilitate greater weight maintenance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • User-Computer Interface*
  • Weight Loss*