Tackling the Obesity Crisis with VR

Approximately 69 billion euros is spent on healthcare issues related to dealing with overweight or obese patients in Europe every year. Obesity increases the likelihood of physical illnesses and mental health issues such as: diabetes, coronary artery and stress and depression. Moreover, according to WHO, 50% of the adult population is overweight (23% of women and 20% of men being classified as obese).

Current treatments for obesity have limited effectiveness. Treatments for obesity focus on trying to change the patient’s behaviour, predominantly with respect to diet and exercise. However, these treatments have been shown to be largely ineffective with most patients failing to lose weight in the medium to long term. Telemedicine has been proposed as an alternative to this, with some Virtual Reality solutions beginning to penetrate the market. However, these solutions are essentially the same lifestyle behaviour change treatments in a VR environment instead of in reality. Over time, the patient returns to their previous weight.



Registration link

Tackling the Obesity Crisis with VR: Introduction to the study of obesity

Pilar Lusilla Palacios


Tackling the Obesity Crisis with VR: Technical solutions to the representation of bodies

Elena Álvarez de la Campa


Tackling the Obesity Crisis with VR: ConVRSelf and the idea of using that for obesity

Bernhard Spanlang


Tackling the Obesity Crisis with VR: What we learn from behavioural and EEG studies

Beatrice de Gelder


Tackling the Obesity Crisis with VR: on the clinical trial

Dimitra Anastasiadou


Tackling the Obesity Crisis with VR: on the AI aspects

Doron Friedman


ConVRself (conversations with yourself in VR) is a VR platform that uses embodiment to treat obesity. The patient is embodied in a virtual body. The virtual body has a close resemblance to their own body or represents the body of a counsellor. This affords them seeing themselves from the embodied viewpoint of of the counsellor and have a self-conversation by swapping between the counsellor and their own body. This allows them to target three aspects that are inherent to severe obesity:

1-SELF-AWARENESS: Patients recognise that they have a medical condition

2-SELF-STIGMATISATION: Patients can overcome their self-stigmatisation and improve their self-worth

3-SELF-DETERMINATION: Patients are empowered to take action

ConVRself allows patients to tackle the root causes of their obesity, rather than simply treating the symptoms.

The Socrates project:

  • Adapts the conVRself technology for treating obesity in a clinical setting

  • Validates the efficacy of embodiment technology for treating obesity

  • Uses ConVRself as a proof of concept for using embodiment techniques as a treatment for other behavioural disorders

  • Disseminates the results to promote the use of embodiment technology as an effective healthcare solution for treating a range of behavioural conditions

In the following seminars, we will go deeply in the advances of the different technologies & methodologies involved: virtual reality, artificial intelligence, phsycological & phsycriatic, motivational conversation.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 951930

Proposed Series of Talks from the EU SOCRATES Project