Washington: Web-based programmes are the new effective measures in weight loss and weight management, according to a study.
Weight loss is a topic of concern for nearly 36 percent of Americans who are considered obese. There are many barriers that can interfere with weight loss.
For those attending face-to-face weight loss programmes, barriers can include travel, conflict with work and home, need for child care, and loss of anonymity.
In a study released in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, investigators from the University of Kansas Medical Center continue to explore alternative weight management delivery methods to eliminate some of these barriers.
Debra Sullivan, lead investigator, says: "Although we found weight loss was significantly greater for face-to-face compared to virtual reality, weight maintenance was significantly better for virtual reality."
The virtual reality weight maintenance programme was conducted using Second Life, a web-based virtual reality environment available to the public.
Participants in Second Life create virtual representations of themselves, called "avatars", which can interact with other "avatars" and navigate through the virtual world of Second Life.
Voice communication is accomplished via headset, which allows for person-to-person and group interaction. Education and training takes place on an "island", which is purchased from Second Life and provides restricted group access to the nutrition education and training area.