Does mindfulness have potential in eating disorders prevention? A preliminary controlled trial with young adult women

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;10(3):234-45. doi: 10.1111/eip.12160. Epub 2014 Jun 4.


Aim: This preliminary randomized controlled trial assessed the feasibility of a pilot mindfulness-based intervention with respect to reducing the risk of eating disorders in young women.

Methods: Forty-four young adult women with body image concerns (Mage = 20.57, SD = 3.22) were randomly allocated to a mindfulness-based or a dissonance-based intervention (3 × 1 h weekly sessions), or to assessment-only control. Self-report measures of eating disorder risk factors, symptoms and related psychosocial impairment were compared at baseline, post-intervention, and at 1- and 6-month follow up.

Results: At post-intervention, acceptability ratings for both interventions were high. Mindfulness participants demonstrated statistically significant improvements relative to control at post-intervention for weight and shape concern, dietary restraint, thin ideal internalization, eating disorder symptoms and related psychosocial impairment; however, these gains were largely lost over follow up. Dissonance participants did not show statistically significant improvements relative to control on any outcomes, despite small to moderate effect sizes.

Conclusions: These preliminary findings demonstrate the acceptability and short-term efficacy of a mindfulness-based approach to reducing the risk of disordered eating in young women. This provides support for the continued evaluation of mindfulness in the prevention and early intervention of eating disorders, with increased efforts to produce maintenance of intervention gains.

Keywords: dissonance; eating disorder; mindfulness; prevention; risk factor.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult