Pizza in the virtual room; and Dr Glyn Lawson from the University of Nottingham trying out the VR equipment (Image: University of Nottingham)
They have been given £58,000 to see if it's feasible.
Nottingham's two universities are getting together with a local business on a project which could see virtual reality (VR) used to help people who are obese or who have an eating disorder.
They have been given a grant to see whether putting people in a VR environment will give extra insights into their behaviour - and ultimately help tackle their conditions.
They hope to develop a tool which could, for example, help someone who is obese to explore and manage their reactions when they are in a room where there is an open box of pizza on the side.
The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University are working with Radford technology company Body Aspect on the project, and have been given £58,000 from national innovation agency InnovateUK to carry out a feasibility study.
Dr Mike Marriott from Department of Psychology at NTU said: "As a psychologist, I will often talk in therapy with people about the things they're afraid of - whether that be something to do with how they will react when expected to eat differently, or whether it be about an aspect of their body image and how they think their body looks or will look.
"The limitations with these kind of conversations include the fact that they are simply a conversation - it's very hard to create a meaningful sense of what it is that we're talking about.
"For many people, just talking in this way is simply not enough to move towards the changes they need.
How will people react to coming across pizza? (Image: University of Nottingham)
"We believe that by bringing VR into these kinds of therapies, the experience will be much more immersive, and therefore much more meaningful to the people. We believe that their experiences in therapy will begin to have a much more direct link to the difficult emotions they experience outside of therapy, enabling them to make progress more directly."
The project combines the technology of 3D body scanning with new developments in virtual reality, and we think it is an interesting idea for people to hear about.
Part of the project will involve creating realistic full body avatars showing people as they really are, rather than as the vaguely abstract figures found in VR.
The team - which also includes Dr Glyn Lawson, Dr Tessa Roper, and Tommy Nilsson from the University of Nottingham - says that ultimately "the project could lead to a new tool that will increase the prospect of users achieving a healthy weight and speed up recovery."
It adds: "There are potential financial benefits to the NHS and the wider benefits will be a reduction in obesity and improved outcomes for patients with eating disorders."
The team is looking to recruit people who have treated or lived with eating disorders or obesity in Nottingham to help the project. The definition of obesity is having a BMI of over 30.