Virtual Reality as a Tool to Study the Influence of the Eating Environment on Eating Behavior: A Feasibility Study

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2021-01-05
Authors
Oliver, James
Oliver, James
Hollis, James
Hollis, James
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Mechanical Engineering
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Mechanical EngineeringFood Science and Human Nutrition
Abstract

In this manuscript, we describe a new approach to study the effect of the eating environment on food intake and eating behavior using virtual reality technology. Fifteen adults consumed pizza rolls in two virtual reality (VR) environments: a restaurant and a table in an empty room. The participants’ food intake, eating parameters (e.g., masticatory parameters and eating rate), and their sensory evaluation of the test food was measured. The participants’ sense of presence (the feeling of being in the virtual environment) and markers of arousal were also measured. There was no statistical significant difference in food intake or the sensory evaluation of the test food. In the restaurant condition, participants used fewer masticatory cycles before swallowing but there was no effect on eating rate or maximum bite force. Participants experienced a greater sense of presence when they were in the pizza restaurant scene. Moreover, their heart rate and skin temperature were higher in the restaurant condition. This study suggests that VR could be developed as a new tool to study the effect of the eating environment on food intake and eating behavior.

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This article is published as Oliver, J.H., Hollis, J., Virtual Reality as a Tool to Study the Influence of the Eating Environment on Eating Behavior: A Feasibility Study. Foods. 10(1); 89. Doi: 10.3390/foods10010089.

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