Mindful eating techniques taught in a group setting lead to significant improvements in eating behavior and weight loss, according to study results published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Researchers analyzed data on clinical effectiveness of mindful eating techniques and their impact on eating-related behavior, relationship with food, and self-confidence. In total, 33 people with BMI >35 kg/m2 participated in 90-minute group sessions led by specialist dieticians teaching mindful eating techniques. Participants had access to 1-on-1 clinician interactions and completed a validated integrative eating questionnaire at baseline and at 8-week follow-up.

Of the 33 participants included in the study, 26 were women and mean age was 44 ± 11 years. At follow-up, there was a 4% improvement in overall self-reported eating style (P =.009), mainly through improvements in “fast-foodism” (P =.031), and an average weight loss of 3.1 ± 5.2 kg (P =.002). 

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There was significant improvement in weight loss in the cohort that completed the mindfulness-based eating course vs a retrospective control group that did not have mindfulness training (P =.036). Patients also reported improvements in self-compassion, self-esteem, self-respect, and self-value after completing the mindful eating course.

In future research, the investigators suggested including a control group to compare mindful eating to the standard of care.

The researchers concluded that teaching mindful eating improved eating-related behaviors, social interaction, and self-management of body weight. “Perhaps adoption of mindfulness techniques will provide the requisite mental and emotional tools for healthful [behavior] change and enable successful implementation and maintenance of lifestyle strategies for weight-loss in the future,” they added.

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Hanson P, Shuttlewood E, Halder L, et al. Application of mindfulness in a tier 3 obesity service improves eating behaviour and facilitates successful weight-loss [published online December 18, 2018]. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. doi:10.1210/jc.2018-00578