Research from the University of Warwick and the Endocrine Society suggests that mindfulness training may help in the fight against obesity. The experts found that practicing mindfulness can improve the effectiveness of intensive weight management programs.
Individuals who engaged in mindfulness training as part of a weight loss program shed more weight in six months compared to individuals in the same program who did not learn how to practice mindfulness.
Study first author Petra Hanson is a research fellow and Ph.D. student at Warwickshire Institute for the Study of Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism.
“This research is significant as we have shown that problematic eating behavior can be improved with mindfulness application,” said Hanson. “We are the first center in the United Kingdom that created a structured multidisciplinary course incorporating mindfulness and assessed its effectiveness in patients attending obesity clinics.”
The investigation was focused on 53 individuals who were attending the multidisciplinary tier 3 weight management program at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. Among those examined for the study, 33 participants completed at least three of four mindfulness sessions.
Mindfulness course participants lost, on average, 6.6 pounds in the six-month period following the classes. During the same time frame, individuals who engaged in fewer mindfulness courses lost only around 2 pounds, while many of those who did not learn mindfulness actually gained weight.
“Surveys of the participants indicate mindfulness training can help this population improve their relationship with food,” said Hanson. “Individuals who completed the course said they were better able to plan meals in advance and felt more confident in self-management of weight loss moving forward. Similar courses can be held in a primary care setting or even developed into digital tools. We hope this approach can be scaled up to reach a wider population.”
Study senior author Thomas M. Barber added, “Mindfulness has huge potential as a strategy for achieving and maintaining good health and wellbeing.”
“With the burgeoning impact of 21st Century chronic disease, much of which relates to lifestyle behavior choices, it is logical that focus should be on enabling the populace to make appropriate lifestyle decisions, and empowering subsequent salutary behavior change. In the context of obesity and eating-related behaviors, we have demonstrated that mindfulness techniques can do just that.”
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.