The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in humans is a growing public health concern in the United States. Concomitants include poor health behaviors and reduced psychological well-being. Preliminary evidence suggests yoga and treatment paradigms incorporating mindfulness, self-compassion (SC), acceptance, non-dieting, and intuitive eating may improve these ancillary correlates, which may promote long-term weight loss.
Methods: We explored the impact of a 5-day residential weight loss program, which was multifaceted and based on Kripalu yoga, on health behaviors, weight loss, and psychological well-being in overweight/obese individuals. Thirty-seven overweight/obese program participants (age 32-65, BMI<25) completed validated mind-fulness, SC, lifestyle behavior, and mood questionnaires at baseline, post-program, and 3-month follow-up and reported their weight 1 year after program completion.
Results: Significant improvements in nutrition behaviors, SC, mindfulness, stress management, and spiritual growth were observed immediately post-program (n = 31, 84% retention), with medium to large effect sizes. At 3-month follow-up (n = 18, 49% retention), most changes persisted. Physical activity and mood disturbance had improved significantly post-program but failed to reach significance at 3-month follow-up. Self-report weight loss at 1 year (n = 19, 51% retention) was significant.
Conclusion: These findings suggest a Kripalu yoga-based, residential weight loss program may foster psychological well-being, improved nutrition behaviors, and weight loss. Given the exploratory nature of this investigation, more rigorous work in this area is warranted.