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June 6, 2012 at 12:58 PMComments: 3 Faves: 1

Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach? Try Japan's New Diet Goggles

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the FitChatter Blog Series

Japanese researchers have just developed augmented reality glasses that fooled people into eating less! Only in Japan.

Remember the blog I wrote a few weeks ago about how looking at pictures of tasty food can trick your mind into thinking that the plain food you’re eating is actually delicious? Well, researchers at the University of Tokyo have taken it a step further.

It sounds like science fiction, but these researchers have managed to create two kinds of headgear that can actually potentially aid dieters.

Shrinking the Problem

In one experiment, test subjects wore high-tech goggles that magnify the apparent size of the food you’re eating while keeping your hand the same size. When the snack was seemingly 50% bigger, participants ate 10% less. To test the reverse, researchers shrank the image of the cookie to 2/3 its normal size; participants then ate 15% more.

This is actually pretty consistent with previous research that shows that we tend to use visual cues, not feelings of fullness, to determine when we are satisfied. So while I don’t really understand how they could enlarge the food without making the hand appear bigger, the results aren’t all that surprising.

It’s the second kind of goggles that really boggled my mind.

Mind Over Matter

In the second experiment, participants were given a plain biscuit to eat while wearing a different kind of headgear: goggles that use scents and visual wizardry to make the biscuit appear like a sweet cookie. And the crazy thing? It actually worked. The test subjects were fooled a staggering 80% of the time.

Think about that for a minute. They actually thought they were eating something completely different, based on a couple of sensory tricks.  And an 80% success rate is nothing to sneeze at.

A Diet Revolution?

Since these inventions are so new, it’s anyone’s guess as to how they’ll be used should they go into production. While I think it would be impractical for everyday use, I do wonder if it could be used in some kind of diet therapy. It would be quite awkward in a normal restaurant setting, but what if there were restaurants built upon this idea – where only healthy food is served, and all patrons wear diet goggles?

So maybe we don’t need a soda ban. Maybe we just need high-tech Japanese augmented reality goggles.

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What say you, FitChatters? Would you give these goggles a try? How do you think they could be used? Do you think they’re more hype than help?

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Sources:

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3 Comments

  • Mind Blown! I am very curious how they made the food seem bigger without changing your hand. Who had a hand in this? WETA? ILM? It has to have been some awesome company that can do that in real time. Crazy!

  • It does seem incomprehensible. I mean you would almost want to try the goggles to see for yourself, like the texture of a biscuit would be different then a cookie, so how wouldn't you notice the difference in texture alone then realize it can't be a cookie.

  • Whoa! Laura, this is so sweet. Also, agreed - only in Japan would they make goggles like these. ;)

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