A chat robot that can reduce the likelihood of a person developing an eating disorder has been developed by American researchers. The robot helped women at high risk of developing an eating disorder reduce their worries about their body weight and shape.
The research team developed a chat robot that could adapt its answers to its counterpart. The study participants could use the chat robot through text messages or via Facebook Messenger. In addition, the study recruited women through advertisements and an online screening test for eating disorders.
Women without an active eating disorder but with risk factors such as negative body image or excessive anxiety about their weight were drawn to either chat with the chat robot or be on a waiting list.
The chat robot offered eight calls about, e.g., body image and healthy eating. Those who used the robot were encouraged to have two calls each week.
The women who chatted with the chat robot had a more significant reduction in concerns about their weight and body shape at the three- and six-month follow-ups.
According to the study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, women in the chat robot group were less likely to have developed a clinical eating disorder at the end of the six months than women on the waiting list.
"This chat robot can help reduce mental illness among young people if it were to spread to clinics for young adults," comments David Grönte, a psychiatry specialist doctor.