Fight Obesity By Sitting Around Playing A Computer Game

Some Houston obesity researchers are hoping that overweight people using the Internet will at least visit their virtual clinic to exercise and diet online. If that's tough to understand, it's probably because it doesn't make sense.

Actually, Second Life is apparently very popular and virtual people doing virtual stuff is the way of the future, according to Rebecca Lee, associate professor and director of the University of Houston's Texas Obesity Research Center.

"If you practice this virtually, then some of that information will translate, hopefully, to real life," Lee tells Hair Balls. "Who knows, some people may actually make changes in real life behaviors."

The center was awarded a virtual grant of Lindens (Second Life currency) in the equivalent of about $900. The fake money came from the real University of California, where real life researchers are trying to find some value in Second Life.

The Texas Obesity Research Center in Second Life officially opens on August 19, and Lee hopes to draw about 500 virtual people to the project. The virtual center will pay people Lindens to walk on treadmills, jump on trampolines, ride stationary bikes and try new fruits and vegetables.

The project will last for four months, and other than surveys, Lee says there aren't many ways to track the real life benefits.

"People are very interested in being with other people, so we're hoping we can capitalize on that social network that goes on in Second Life," Lee says.

You can check out more details here. Then pass us the Cheetos.

-- Paul Knight

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