A virtual version of yourself to help you lose weight

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&gt;.

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/&gt;.


4 thoughts on “A virtual version of yourself to help you lose weight

  1. This is a great idea. I think this may actually help many people lose weight or just get them to realize they may need to change some of their eating or exercise habits. Seeing yourself on the screen virtually can really be a motivator, because it can show you how much progress you’re making and you can see the avatar lose weight as you lose weight. I think I may actually try this to see how it works out for me. It sounds very interesting. Our world is becoming more and more tech savvy I would like to see what the future holds for new technology on weight loss options

  2. A virtual avatar for weight loss sounds fantastic. This would probably give people back a sense of control. I know a lot of people that feel powerless over their weight and eating habits. This would really make a person take a good look at themselves. Not only would you be forced to look at what you are eating and how much you are exercising (or not exercising!), you would also have to look at your body shape/size each day on a screen in front of you. That could be motivating enough in itself to keep people going on a weight loss program. Many people fall off weight loss programs because of a lack of motivation to continue, especially if they have “plateaued” and are stuck at a certain weight. I don’t know that I would personally enjoy watching myself in this manner each day, but it very well might work for many others. Another option for helping to motivate people to be healthier is definitely not something I would argue with! Thanks for the post about this new and upcoming product.

  3. Very interesting article. I think a virtual avatar is a great idea to spark weight loss and promote a healthy lifestyle. I think anyway we can help people lose weight is a good idea. We all learn at different speeds and are motivated through different measures, and appealing to gamers is a great way to involve people who did not want to exercise. I would like to see how my avatar can help me visualize my weight loss and encourage me to stay on track when I am discouraged. I would like to see the control groups and see how much of a difference having an avatar effect weight loss.

  4. This is such a great idea. Reinventing traditional calorie counters and exercise logs, and adding a fun spin to it. In recent articles I have been reading that many people are seeing incredible results, and increase in motivation with similar applications that have been released more recently. I actually was going to blog on an article I read the other day about people who use Iphone applications that are video games that utilize your smart phone GPS capabilities (mostly dealing with aerobic outdoor activities). That’s why I can really see this work especially different applications being tailored to age groups. An example would be if they targeted a younger age group and incorporated fantasy and science fiction themes possibly. Honestly it could be endless, the other day I saw a running app that features zombies chasing you. The problem could arise if people get to into the video game aspects of the applications and they begin to just input false data. I really do believe this could be a fun way to promote wellness. I used to use websites such as Livestrong to calculate my caloric intake, which I found to be effective and even recommend them to people. I wouldn’t mind testing out this application next time I am gaining or losing weight.

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