Study Looks at Mindfulness-Based Eating for Obesity

Peter M. Yellowlees, MBBS, MD


August 04, 2016

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This is the Medscape Psychiatry Minute. I'm Dr Peter Yellowlees. Obesity is an increasingly significant public health problem with few good nonsurgical treatments showing long-term success. Mindfulness meditation techniques are increasingly being used for a number of behaviorally related disorders, and now a team of investigators[1] from the University of California–San Francisco have undertaken a study to determine whether adding mindfulness-based eating and stress management practices to a diet-and-exercise program improves weight loss and metabolic syndrome components. A total of 194 obese adults were randomized to a 5.5-month program with or without mindfulness training and identical diet-and-exercise guidelines. At the end of the study, the two groups did not differ significantly on the primary outcome of 18-month weight change, although there were some metabolic improvements in the mindfulness group.

This is yet another study that, unfortunately, does not help us greatly in managing our obese patients, although mindful eating (slowing down and savoring the experience of eating) and related techniques have long been promoted on anecdotal evidence as a means of encouraging individuals to reduce food portion size and total intake. While there are undoubted benefits of mindfulness meditation approaches for stress management, and anxiety in particular, and obese patients may still benefit, they do not seem to make a substantial difference in leading to weight loss as a specific outcome.

Thank you for listening to this Medscape Psychiatry Minute. Do enjoy your practice.


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