The nearly $500,000 study using “virtual role play” to coach doctors is the latest attempt by the federal government to combat obesity.
“Obesity in the United States is at historically high levels and is an important health problem,” the grant for the project states. “Interventions targeting children are a high priority because children bear the greatest lifetime health risk from overweight and obesity.”
“Health professionals in primary care settings are influential in the lives of families,” it continued. “Even brief advice delivered well can have a meaningful impact, and yet, health care providers indicate that lack of efficacy and skill, impact, patient motivation, and educational materials keep them from routinely addressing obesity prevention and treatment in their practices.”
The grant was awarded to SiMmersion, LLC, a communications training company that simulates conversations with virtual actors. In one example video a law enforcement officer interviews a neighbor of a man who “may be dealing drugs out of his house.” “On-screen assistants,” smaller computer animated people, give two thumbs up when the conversation is going well. (Read more on what the feds spend their money on HERE)