While there are numerous weight loss technologies out there, such as the “As-seen-on-TV” gadgets or smartphone apps, one study has found that having a regimen that includes viewing a virtual avatar of yourself helps in losing weight.
This avatar is a customizable digital representation of the person that simulates their exercise and eating habits, making the weight loss experience similar to a video game. The pilot study investigated 128 women who were classified as overweight and was conducted over a period of four weeks. Activities in the regimen included watching the avatar teach about portion control, moderate aerobic exercise, and other diet and exercise tips. In addition to personalization and convenience, this type of weight loss plan is also inexpensive and could be fun to those who enjoy a virtual reality type of experience.
The results were positive, with the women losing an average of 3.5 pounds over the study/regimen period. One particular health behavior construct that this study utilized is self-efficacy, which is the belief that one can achieve a certain behavior. Having a relatable representation of oneself also increases self-confidence, with 88% of the participants believing that this avatar can help them achieve their weight loss goals.
While virtual programs are also used for other health behaviors, including smoking cessation, alcohol and drug use, certain phobias, and stroke rehabilitation, this pilot study still needs to be conducted under different settings, such as with a control group and with men. However, the results from this study could be beneficial in developing weight loss programs that have a holistic approach and also aim at increasing self-confidence.
If you are interested in this virtual avatar regimen, unfortunately, it is not available to the general public, but you can check out these other smartphone apps for weight loss and exercise from NY Daily News:
Lose It! – www.loseit.com
MyFitnessPal – www.myfitnesspal.com/mobile
Fooducate – www.fooducate.com
Endomondo – www.endomondo.com
“Top 6 smartphone apps for losing weight – NY Daily News.” Daily News America – Breaking national news, video, and photos – Homepage – NY Daily News. N.p., 8 Apr. 2013. Web. 8 July 2013. <http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/top-6-smartphone-apps-losing-weight-article-1.1310526>.
Waseem, F. “New skinny on weight loss: Avatars might help.” USA TODAY. N.p., 1 July 2013. Web. 8 July 2013. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/01/avatars-weight-loss/2459571/>.