Abstract :

Virtual reality has demonstrated promising results in the treatment of eating disorders (ED); however, few studies have examined its usefulness in treating obesity. The aim of this study was to compare ED and obese patients on their reality judgment of a virtual environment (VE) designed to normalize their eating pattern. A second objective was to study which variables predicted the reality of the experience of eating a virtual forbidden-fattening food. ED patients, obese patients, and a non-clinical group (N=62) experienced a non-immersive VE, and then completed reality judgment and presence measures. All participants rated the VE with similar scores for quality, interaction, engagement, and ecological validity; however, ED patients obtained the highest scores on emotional involvement, attention, reality judgment/presence, and negative effects. The obese group gave the lowest scores to reality judgment/presence, satisfaction and sense of physical space, and they held an intermediate position in the attribution of reality to virtually eating a « fattening » food. The palatability of a virtual food was predicted by attention capturing and belonging to the obese group, while the attribution of reality to the virtual eating was predicted by engagement and belonging to the ED group. This study offers preliminary results about the differential impact on ED and obese patients of the exposure to virtual food, and about the need to implement a VE that can be useful as a virtual lab for studying eating behavior and treating obesity.

Auteurs : Perpiñá C, Roncero M

Lien vers l’article : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27095333