Mindfulness is more effective than simply trying to eat healthy, a study claims.
Eighty people joined a study by North Carolina State University, with half designing their own diet, and half engaging in daily meditation.
The results revealed the mindfulness group lost an average of 4.2lbs – seven times the other group’s average weight loss of 0.6lbs.
It is a staggering testament to the power of meditation, researchers say, as the nation fights an obesity crisis.
Overweight and obesity increase the risk of chronic diseases including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The results of a 15-week trial by North Carolina State University revealed the mindfulness group lost an average of 4.2lbs – seven times the other group’s average weight loss of 0.6lbs
A ‘small changes approach’ is one possible weight management strategy, which emphasises the combination of diet and physical activity and suggests reductions in energy intake and increases in energy expenditure to prevent weight gain and or promote weight reduction.
In recent years, mindful eating – focusing on what you see and feel in the moment to increasing one’s awareness – has been introduced as a possible strategy for weight management.
The main purpose of the study was to examine the effectiveness of a program called Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less (ESMMWL) to increase awareness of eating habits.
Researchers also wanted to investigate the relationship between mindful eating and weight loss.
ESMMWL was developed by researchers at North Carolina State University and North Carolina Division of Public Health.
It hinges on the idea of creating a structure that will help participants change behaviors that have caused them to gain weight, or prevent weight loss.
Participants take the class from a live instructor at the same time each week on a computer or mobile device.
To measure their level of mindfulness, researchers got each of the participants to fill out the Mindful Eating Questionnaire, a 28-point survey that assesses five domains of mindful eating.
Mindful eating includes paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, planning meals and snacks, eating as a singular activity as opposed to eating while doing other activities, and paying special attention to how food tastes.
It may also include having just one or two bites of special higher calorie foods and savoring the flavor.
The trial lasted 15 weeks.
The 28 participants that completed ESMMWL lost an average of 4.2lbs. The rest lost around 0.6lbs.
And participants who completed ESMMWL had a significantly larger increase in their mindfulness scores than those in the waitlist control group.
‘Results suggest that there is a beneficial association between mindful eating and weight loss,’ the authors wrote in the study.
‘The current study contributes to the mindfulness literature as there are very few studies that employed rigorous methodology to examine the effectiveness of an intervention on mindful eating.’
The authors are continuing to employ the strategy of mindfulness, specifically mindful eating, in their work in the area of weight management.
They are currently studying mindful eating as part of a diabetes prevention program.