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Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Body Evolution Technologies Announce New Web-Based Computer Application

Released: Wednesday, May 02, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA – Body Evolution Technologies, in collaboration with Pennington Biomedical Research Center, unveiled a new web-based platform and application designed to impact healthy body image, and eating disorders and obesity risk-factor prevention.  
The new platform, called Emer.ge, and the new application, named The Body Image Voice was launched on Wednesday, May 2nd.  Dr. Tiffany Stewart, Ph.D., director of the Behavior Technology Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical and co-founder/chief scientific officer of Body Evolution, discussed the formation of the company and showcased the free consumer application at a press conference held at Pennington Biomedical.

“The vision of Emer.ge is to empower individuals to shift focus from unrealistic appearance ideals and move toward health, balance, and optimal performance,” said Stewart. “It seems basic, but science supports the idea that until we regard our bodies better, we won’t treat them better,” Stewart added.   

The Emer.ge website brings a fresh perspective on body image, which can be defined as the way we perceive and experience our bodies. Research shows body image influences eating disorders and obesity.  The Body Image Voice app focuses on a single component of body image, the role media and advertising play in shaping our ideals of health and beauty. Users of the app rate the impact of images and ads to quantify which messages viewers think are helpful or harmful. The app will soon be available as a free download in the iTunes store.

College students are the initial target population for the company’s products. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, one out of every four university-aged women uses unhealthy methods of weight control, such as fasting, skipping meals, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting.   

“The research community is gaining momentum in its efforts to combat eating disorders and other behaviors that prevent individuals from achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. In the past decade, we’ve made significant strides in identifying effective prevention approaches. For the first time, there are programs with data behind them that reduce eating disorder risk factors and improve body image. This is a major step forward,” said Stewart.

“We know that poor body image contributes to eating disorders, obesity, and a host of other unhealthy practices and behaviors.  This new application, and the overall platform, offers immediate, high-tech prevention options to individuals around the world,” said Steven Heymsfield, M.D., executive director of Pennington Biomedical.  “Commercialization of technologies from the research taking place at Pennington Biomedical helps fulfill our mission of disease prevention across the lifespan,” added Dr. Heymsfield.

“As early-stage venture capital investors, we recognize the amazing opportunity that lies in the confluence of peer-reviewed science and digital media.  Dr. Stewart’s affiliation with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center is critical to the science, and as a result, the very creation of the company.  There is too much digital information available, and the Emer.ge platform brings real intelligence and a powerful app to the consumer,” said Ross P. Barrett, Board member and Managing Partner of BVM Capital, LLC.

Emer.ge is a platform for apps, games and programs that improve health behaviors,” said Tom Fischmann, co-founder of Body Evolution. The company is establishing partnerships with organizations focused on student health, such as the Delta Delta Delta fraternity.  Tri Delta is a leading advocate and sponsor of body image programs for students, whose 15,000 active student members comprise a test population for new apps and games.

To view the website, go to www.emer.ge

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The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the causes of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. Itis a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at the Center includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 50 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dieticians, and support personnel, and 19 highly specialized core service facilities.  The Center's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 234-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.