Avatar coaching with community context for adult-child dyads

Virtual reality avatar-based coaching shows promise to increase access to and extend the reach of nutrition education programs to children at risk for obesity.

Photo
Selected scenes of the virtual reality avatar experience seen by participants.
Source: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Researchers introduced 15 adult-child dyads to a virtual avatar-based coaching program that incorporated age-specific information on growth; physical, social, and emotional development; healthy lifestyles; common nutrition concerns; and interview questions around eating behaviors and food resources and counseling.

"We developed a virtual reality avatar computer program as a way to get kids engaged in learning about nutrition education. The goal was to make this a program that could work to prevent childhood obesity," said lead investigator Jared T. McGuirt, PhD, MPH, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA. "We were primarily interested in how kids and parents reacted to this program - particularly lower income kids and parents who may not have been able to access this kind of experience in the past."

A key finding in the study was the avatar's ability to spark dialogue between the children and adults around dietary habits and behavior. All children and adults reported liking the program and planned to use it in the future, as they found it fun, informational, and motivating. The personalized social aspect of the avatar experience was appealing, as participants thought the avatar would reinforce guidance and provide support while acting as a cue to change health behaviors.

Looking to future implementation of this program in the public health field, Dr. McGuirt noted: "We feel we have a good start. The program was designed so others can build on it, and hopefully advance this technique into community nutrition education programs.

The studyws published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

VR supports the treatment of children with brain injury

VR supports the treatment of children with brain injury

Research confirms the efficiency of using computer-based programmes and virtual reality for improving children's attention and social skills.

Virtual reality to help patients speak up

Virtual reality to help patients speak up

Immersive virtual reality technology could help speech pathologists treat communication disorders.

Virtual reality could help to reduce pain

Virtual reality could help to reduce pain

Researchers have shown that VR can reduce types of pain typically seen in patients with nerve injuries.

Hemodialysis: Virtual reality lessens physical side effects

Hemodialysis: Virtual reality lessens physical side effects

Researchers have explored whether a virtual reality program on mindfulness/meditation could alleviate the physical side effects of hemodialysis patients.

A new  virtual reality cognitive assessment

A new virtual reality cognitive assessment

Researchers have created a virtual reality cognitive assessment to effectively test executive function in a real-world setting.

What happens when your brain can't tell which way is up or down?

What happens when your brain can't tell which way is up or down?

Using virtual reality, researchers found that people differ in how much they are influenced by their visual environment.

Could robots replace real therapy dogs?

Could robots replace real therapy dogs?

According to new research, robotic animals could be the 'pawfect' replacement for our real-life furry friends.

AR makes chemistry and biology accessible everywhere

AR makes chemistry and biology accessible everywhere

A new website allows teachers and students to explore concepts from chemistry and biology by manipulating virtual molecules in augmented reality.

VR helps measure vulnerability to stress

VR helps measure vulnerability to stress

Behavioral scientists have developed a virtual reality test that assesses a person’s vulnerability to stress while exploring immersive environments.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter