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 36.9 kg/m² [SD±6.2]. The mean weight was 101 kg/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.
Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that a eating focused mindfulness-based intervention can result in significant changes in weight, eating behavior, and psychological distress in obese individuals.
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