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The main goal of this paper is to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of a virtual-reality (VR)-based multidimensional approach in the treatment of body image attitudes and related constructs. The female binge eating disorder (BED) patients (n=20), involved in a residential weight control treatment including low-calorie diet (1200 cal/day) and physical training, were randomly assigned either to the multidimensional VR treatment or to psychonutritional groups based on the cognitive-behavior approach. Patients were administered a battery of outcome measures assessing eating disorders symptomathology, attitudes toward food, body dissatisfaction, level of anxiety, motivation for change, level of assertiveness, and general psychiatric symptoms. In the short term, the VR treatment was more effective than the traditional cognitive-behavioral psychonutritional groups in improving the overall psychological state of the patients. In particular, the therapy was more effective in improving body satisfaction, self-efficacy, and motivation for change. No significant differences were found in the reduction of the binge eating behavior. The possibility of inducing a significant change in body image and its associated behaviors using a VR-based short-term therapy can be useful to improve the body satisfaction in traditional weight reduction programs. However, given the nature of this research that does not include a followup study, the obtained results are preliminary only.
Information Technology in Biomedicine, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:6 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: Sept. 2002