'Diet Glasses' Make Boring Biscuits Look and Taste Like Cookies

Virtual reality moves beyond video games into the world of healthy eating

Who knew dieting could be as simple as putting on a pair of glasses? Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed so-called "diet glasses," which distort the wearer's perception of the food they eat.

With one device, food looks larger than it actually is. In trial runs, volunteers tended to eat 10 percent less when food appeared 50 percent larger. But when cookies looked smaller, they ate 15 percent more.

Similarly, the team in Tokyo has developed something they call a "meta cookie," which basically tricks eaters into thinking they're taking a bite of something delicious and unhealthy. Using virtual reality, plus some scent bottles, the meta cookie can make a plain biscuit taste like a chocolate or strawberry cookie.

Smell and taste have been closely linked in past studies, where subjects think one sensation is coming from the mouth instead of the nose. University of Tokyo researchers found that 80 percent of "meta cookie" users are fooled, which may help extreme dieters satisfy cravings without packing on the calories.

In the meantime, we're half-expecting "virtual-reality" restaurants to pop up, showing off meta cookies and developing a mean business model.