Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

What good is virtual food?

According to Alessandra Gorini and colleagues in Milan, virtual food is as good as or better than real food when it comes to eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia).

The team carried out a small-scale study to test 2 ideas
– that food in a virtual reality situation would evoke the same stress levels as real food in people with eating disorders, and more so than photos of food
– that reaction to the virtual reality food would depend on how real and interactive the virtual reality world was.

They checked this out on 30 women – 10 with anorexia, 10 with bulimia and 10 controls.

They checked on both self-reported measures of anxiety (using clinically validated tests) and bodily measures (heart rate etc).

Both ideas were found to be true. The virtual reality food produced stress levels similar to real food, with a more realistic virtual world giving more lifelike results.

How can virtual food be better than real food in eating disorders? In a cognitive therapy approach, the virtual environment is much more controllable than the real world.

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July 5, 2010 - Posted by | Alessandra Gorini, Anorexia, Brain, Bulimia, CBT

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