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Weight Loss and...Online Browser Games?!

What did the American experiment exactly look like? Volunteers who took part in the three-month research were divided into two groups joined by the common task: to finally get rid of those few extra pounds. Group members were supposed to meet regularly and motivate each other. The first group’s meetings were organized in virtual reality locations, while the latter met in real life only. The results clearly demonstrated that both groups achieved the assumed weight-loosing objective and changed their bad habits, although with slightly different degrees of success.


Dr. Jeanne Johnston has worked as a partner to one of the Second Life communities. Together they have managed to work out an effective program for losing weight. Overweight and obese players invited to take part in the experiment held meetings in both offline and online reality for at least four hours a week. During the meetings, they discussed topics like healthy nutrition, physical activity, best ways to change bad habits and how to use social and family support in weight management. The majority in both groups were women. After twelve weeks of regular meetings, members of both groups lost ca. 9 pounds each. There were also similarities in their body mass indexes and body fat levels. In the final stage of the research, all participants were thoroughly interviewed about the changes in their habits and daily schedules. In addition, the length and quality of sleep were assessed as well. It turned out that the online browser games players made bigger progress in bettering their diets and increasing physical activity. They also slept really sound throughout the three months.Their colleagues from the second research group did not make such significant changes in the above mentioned area.


The experiment brought numerous conclusions. One of the assumptions is that visualizing real-world behavior in the virtual world makes it easier to imagine the consequences; for example: if our virtual character got fat because of overeating, we would probably not repeat its mistakes in the real world. The virtual reality of online browser games proved at least as effective as real life. In fact, in some areas it was even better. Browser games have the potential to reach people who normally would never go to the gym or start a diet -  be it because of lack of motivation or because of being ashamed of one's looks. What is interesting another American scientists have noticed that people exercise more intense, when instead of doing it alone, have company of avatar. 

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