Professional and student researchers at Cal Poly’s Center for Health Research are seeking volunteers to participate in a weight loss pilot study that incorporates virtual reality.
Participants will work with a team of behavior interventionists, psychologists and exercise specialists to develop healthier habits that promote weight loss, according to the Center for Health Research website. In addition to this, volunteers will be assigned virtual reality “homework” to practice certain healthy behaviors digitally.
According to Maria Legato, a behavioral counselor working on the study, the Center for Health Research has done weight loss programs in the past with successful results, but has never used virtual reality to assist with a program.
In the study, all participants will be provided with virtual reality headsets, but only half will watch the videos anticipated to provide greater results. The control group will be provided with placebo videos. Since participants cannot know which group they will be in, the video specifics are confidential.
“I’m really excited to see if the virtual reality helps the participants,” Legato said. “It should be effective, not only effective time wise but also monetarily, for staffing and future studies that can reach more people with less resources.”
The study is still looking for participants, and the deadline was extended to mid-March. Anyone over the age of 18 with a Body Mass Index of 25 or higher can apply by visiting the Center for Health Research. The study will take five weeks to complete, and participants will receive a $20 stipend for participating.