Reference Number: 194
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to pilot a brief (6-week) group curriculum for providing mindfulness training to obese individuals, called Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL).
Setting and design: Participants were recruited through a local Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in spring 2006. Data was collected at three time points: baseline, completion of intervention (6 weeks), and 3-month follow-up (12 weeks).
Intervention: Six weekly two-hour group classes (with two monthly follow-up classes). Content included training in mindfulness meditation, mindful eating, and group discussion, with emphasis on awareness of body sensations, emotions, and triggers to overeat.
Main outcome measures: Key variables assessed included changes in weight, body-mass index (BMI), eating behavior, and psychological distress. In addition, physiological markers of cardiovascular risk were evaluated including C-reactive protein (hsCRP), adiponectin, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1).
Results: Ten obese patients enrolled with a mean BMI of 36.9kg/m2 [SD±6.2]. The mean weight was 101kg/m2 and the mean age was 44 years (SD=8.7; range=31–62). Compared to baseline data, participants showed statistically significant increases in measures of mindfulness and cognitive restraint around eating, and statistically significant decreases in weight, eating disinhibition, binge eating, depression, perceived stress, physical symptoms, negative affect, and C-reactive protein.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Psychological distress has been shown to play a role in binge-type eating behaviours, which are generally characterized by the repeated, uncontrolled consumption of large amounts of food in short periods of time. The purpose of this study was to replicate preliminary findings by piloting a brief (6-week) group curriculum for providing mindfulness training to obese individuals, called Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL). The goal was to help participants cultivate awareness of their behaviours and reduce automatic eating, ideally resulting in less binge-type eating behaviour and improved psychological functioning. TAT the end of 12 weeks of MEAL, all participants lost weight and showed a reduction in inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein. In addition, moderate to large changes were seen for all eating and psychological variables examined. The current study provides preliminary evidence that a eating focused mindfulness-based intervention can result in significant changes in weight, eating behaviour, and psychological distress in obese individuals.
HOW DO WE INTERPRET AND USE THIS INFORMATION?
Eating mindfully is associated with weight loss and reduced inflammation. So we encourage taking time to eat. Putting the phone down, leaving your desk and taking a moment to enjoy and appreciate your food.