Recent research has identified that mindfulness meditation in group settings supports people who are trying to lose weight. The present research investigated mindfulness meditation in group and individual settings, and explored the potential impact on weight loss and other factors (i.e. mindfulness, impulsivity, and avoidance) that may assist or hinder weight loss. Specifically, the hypotheses tested were that the group setting assisted dieters more than the individual setting by reducing weight, cognitive-behavioral avoidance, and impulsivity and by increasing mindfulness. Participants (n = 170) who were trying to lose weight were randomly assigned to practice meditation for 6 weeks within a group or independently. Measurements in mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral avoidance, impulsivity, and weight occurred twice (pre- and post-intervention). Results indicated that participants in the group setting lost weight and lowered their levels of cognitive-behavioral avoidance, while impulsivity and mindfulness remained stable. On the other hand, participants in the individual condition lost less weight, while there was an increase in cognitive-behavioral avoidance and mindfulness scores, but a decrease in impulsivity. Seeing that benefits and limitations observed in group settings are not replicated when people meditate alone, this study concluded that mindfulness meditation in individual settings needs to be used with caution, although there are some potential benefits that could aid future weight loss research.
Keywords: cognitive-behavioral avoidance; impulsivity; mindfulness; mindfulness meditation; obesity; weight loss.
© 2014 The International Association of Applied Psychology.