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Using 3D surface-imaging as part of weight management interventions

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Jon Wheat
    Dr D Broom
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Proposed supervisory team:

Director of Studies: Dr Jon Wheat
Supervisor 1: Dr David Broom
Supervisor 2: Dr Stuart Flint

Alongside the rising prevalence of obesity worldwide there has been a concomitant increase in weight loss interventions. Methods to track patient progress on weight loss interventions include weighing on balance scales (Steinberg et al. 2013), anthropometric measurements - e.g. waist circumference using a tape measure (Leary et al. 2000) and subjective comparison of ‘before and after’ photographs (Daly, 2013). The accuracy of these methods have been scrutinised and calls for more accurate measurement have been observed (Patterson et al. 2010).

Attendance and completion of weight loss interventions is associated with improved weight loss outcomes; however, attrition from these interventions remains high (Moroshko et al. 2011). It has been reported that dropout is associated with patient background characteristics; there are recent calls to examine psychological and behavioural patient factors and processes associated with the treatment with accumulating evidence that these factors such as motivation are linked to attrition (Colombo et al. 2014; Moroshka et al. 2011). Methods to increase motivation to weight loss interventions and consequently methods to reduce attrition are warranted given the continued high levels of dropout.

In 2015 the supervisory team conducted a feasibility study to examine the use of a scanning system incorporating Microsoft Kinect® sensors. Our initial research demonstrated that the low cost 3D surface-imaging system can be used to capture 3D surface profiles of obese patients and, importantly, appears to be more reliable than current measures used in healthcare settings. Furthermore, the scanning system represents a less invasive measure than manual techniques (i.e. tape measure), and requires less time with the patient (Schranz et al. 2010).

Data collected as part of the research team’s feasibility study demonstrated that patients welcomed the use of the 3D surface imaging system and in some cases patients reported that they currently use digital images of themselves as part of their weight loss strategy for motivation. Thus, the 3D imaging system may represent both a more reliable measure and a tool that can be used to motivate patients towards their weight loss goals as well as reduce attrition.

The proposed research is novel in that our initial feasibility study represents the first study to examine the use of a 3D surface imaging system to measure obese patients. The research has the potential to be impactful given that the testing will be conducted in a healthcare setting with obese patients attending a weight loss programme. The research question is to examine whether a 3D surface imaging system is an effective measure for obese patients attending a weight loss programme.

Research Aims
To examine the effectiveness of 3D surface-imaging in measuring obese patients weight loss.
To examine how the 3D surface-imaging data and feedback is being used by patients.
To examine the motivational and body image benefits of 3D surface-imaging.

Funding Notes

Home/EU and International students.

Please note there is no funding attached to this project. We are welcoming self-funded or sponsored students only.

All applicants should hold a good undergraduate degree (2:i or better) and ideally also a relevant Masters qualification.


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