Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Women with Overweight or Obesity

The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and cardiometabolic effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in women with overweight or obesity | Obesity

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Image source: lazydoll – Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Eighty-six women with BMI less than 25 kg/m2 were randomized to 8 weeks of MBSR or health education and followed for 16 weeks. The primary outcome was the Toronto Mindfulness Scale. Secondary outcomes included the Perceived Stress Scale-10, fasting glucose, and blood pressure.

Compared to health education, the MBSR group demonstrated significantly improved mindfulness at 8 weeks (mean change from baseline, 4.5 vs. −1.0; P = 0.03) and significantly decreased perceived stress at 16 weeks (−3.6 vs. −1.3, P = 0.01). In the MBSR group, there were significant reductions in fasting glucose at 8 weeks (−8.9 mg/dL, P = 0.02) and at 16 weeks (−9.3 mg/dL, P = 0.02) compared to baseline. Fasting glucose did not significantly improve in the health education group. There were no significant changes in blood pressure, weight, or insulin resistance in the MBSR group.

In women with overweight or obesity, MBSR significantly reduces stress and may have beneficial effects on glucose. Future studies demonstrating long-term cardiometabolic benefits of MBSR will be key for establishing MBSR as an effective tool in the management of obesity.

Full reference: Raja-Khan, N. et al. (2017) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Women with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Obesity. 
Vol. 25 (no, 8) pp.1349–1359.

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The role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours

In this structured literature review, a summary of the current evidence is presented, together with details of interventions undertaken and the tools to measure outcomes | Nutrition Research Reviews

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The review yielded sixty-eight publications: twenty-three interventions in obese/overweight populations; twenty-nine interventions in normal-weight populations; sixteen observational studies, three of which were carried out in overweight/obese populations.

Mindfulness-based approaches appear most effective in addressing binge eating, emotional eating and eating in response to external cues. There is a lack of compelling evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness and mindful eating in weight management. Mindfulness-based approaches may prevent weight gain. Reduced food intake was seen in some of the studies in overweight and obese populations, but this was less apparent in the studies in normal-weight populations.

The evidence base for intuitive eating is limited to date and further research is needed to examine its potential in altering eating behaviours. Mindfulness appears to work by an increased awareness of internal, rather than external, cues to eat. Mindfulness and mindful eating have the potential to address problematic eating behaviours and the challenges many face with controlling their food intake. Encouraging a mindful eating approach would seem to be a positive message to be included in general weight management advice to the public.

Full reference: Warren, J.M. et al. (2017) A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews. Published online: 18 July 2017

Mindfulness-based interventions for adults who are overweight or obese

Rodgers, J.M. et al. (2017) Obesity Reviews. 18(1). pp. 51–67

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Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of mindfulness-based interventions on psychological and physical health outcomes in adults who are overweight or obese.

Conclusions: Mindfulness-based interventions may be both physically and psychologically beneficial for adults who are overweight or obese, but further high-quality research examining the mechanisms of action are encouraged.

Read the full article here

RCT to investigate brain changes associated with mindfulness-based stress reduction

Fulwiler, C. et al. (2016) BMJ Open. 6:e012573

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Introduction: Obesity is a growing epidemic fuelled by unhealthy behaviours and associated with significant comorbidities and financial costs. While behavioural interventions produce clinically meaningful weight loss, weight loss maintenance is challenging. This may partially be due to failure to target stress and emotional reactivity. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) reduces stress and emotional reactivity and may be a useful tool for behaviour change maintenance. This study seeks to provide a mechanistic understanding for clinical trials of the benefits of MBSR for weight loss maintenance by examining changes in functional connectivity (FC) and the association of these changes with clinical outcomes.

Read the full protocol here