Background: Currently, over 30% of US youth are overweight and 1 in 6 have metabolic syndrome, making youth obesity one of the major global health challenges of the 21st century. Few enduring treatment strategies have been identified in youth populations, and the majority of standard weight loss programs fail to adequately address the impact of psychological factors on eating behavior and the beneficial contribution of parental involvement in youth behavior change.
Methods: A critical need exists to expand treatment development efforts beyond traditional education and cognitive-behavioral programs and explore alternative treatment models for youth obesity. Meditation-based mindful eating programs represent a unique and novel scientific approach to the current youth obesity epidemic given that they address key psychological variables affecting weight.
Results: The recent expansion of mindfulness programs to include family relationships shows the immense potential for broadening the customarily individual focus of this intervention to include contextual factors thought to influence youth health outcomes.
Conclusions: This article provides an overview of how both mindful eating and family systems theory fits within a conceptual framework in order to guide development of a comprehensive family-based mindful eating program for overweight youth.