Binge eating is one of the key behaviors in relation to the etiology and severity of obesity. Cue exposure with response prevention consists of exposing patients to binge foods while actual eating is not allowed. Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to change the way cue exposure is administered, but very few prior studies have been conducted so far. Starting from these premises, this study was aimed to (a) investigate whether AR foods elicit emotional responses comparable to those produced by the real stimuli, (b) study differences between obese and control participants in terms of emotional responses to food, and (c) compare emotional responses to different categories of foods. To reach these goals, we assess in 15 obese (age, 44.6 ± 13 years; body mass index [BMI], 44.2 ± 8.1) and 15 control participants (age, 43.7 ± 12.8 years; BMI, 21.2 ± 1.4) the emotional responses to high-calorie (savory and sweet) and low-calorie food stimuli, presented through different exposure conditions (real, photographic, and AR). The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was used for the assessment of state anxiety, and it was administered at the beginning and after the exposure to foods, along with the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for Hunger and Happiness. To assess the perceived pleasantness, the VAS for Palatability was administered after the exposure to food stimuli. Heart rate, skin conductance response, and facial corrugator supercilii muscle activation were recorded. Although preliminary, the results showed that (a) AR food stimuli were perceived to be as palatable as real stimuli, and they also triggered a similar arousal response; (b) obese individuals showed lower happiness after the exposure to food compared to control participants, with regard to both psychological and physiological responses; and (c) high-calorie savory (vs. low-calorie) food stimuli were perceived by all the participants to be more palatable, and they triggered a greater arousal response.
- INTERNATIONAL NEUROPSYCHIATRIC INTERVIEW