According to the WHO, approximately 23% of women and 20% of men are classified as obese. Approximately 69 billion euros is spent on healthcare issues related to dealing with overweight or obese patients in Europe every year.
Obesity not only increases the likelihood of many physical illnesses, such as diabetes and coronary artery disease but can also provoke mental health issues such as stress and depression.
There is a substantial unmet need to help reduce both the economic and public health burden of obesity.
Problem: Current treatments for obesity have limited effectiveness.
Treatments for obesity focus on trying to develop a behaviour change in the patients, predominantly trying to change their diet or take more exercise. However, these treatments have 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. Over time, the patient returns to their previous weight.
SOCRATES uses embodiment to treat obesity, by allowing the patient to see and interact with themselves. This allows them to target three aspects that are inherent with severe obesity:
- Self stigmatisation
- Self determination
The method allows patients to tackle the root causes of their obesity, rather than simply treating the symptoms.
- Adapt virtual reality embodiment technology for treating obesity in a clinical setting.
- Validate its efficacy in treating obesity.
- Develop a proof of concept for using embodiment techniques as a treatment for other behavioural disorders.
- Disseminate the results to promote the use of embodiment technology as an effective healthcare solution for treating behavioural conditions.