Background There is a significant health crisis with rates of obesity continuing to increase despite research and clinical standard behavioral weight loss programs (SBWP). Mindfulness meditation (MM), with demonstrated benefits on physical, psychological health, and self-regulation behaviors was explored with SBWP. Methods Forty-six adults (BMI=32.5±3.7 kg/m2; age=45.2±8.2 years, 87 % female, 21.7 % African American) were randomly assigned to a 6-month SBWP only (n=24) or SBWP+MM (n=22) at a university-based physical activity and weight management research center in a northeastern US city. Participants were instructed to decrease intake (1200-1500 kcal/day), increase physical activity (300 min/wk), and attend weekly SBWP or SBWP+MM sessions. SBWP+MM had the same SBWP lessons with addition of focused MM training. Outcome measures collected at 0, 3, and 6 months included: weight, Block Food Frequency Questionnaire, Eating Behavior Inventory, Eating Inventory and Paffenbarger Physical Activity Questionnaire. Data were analyzed using linear mixed modeling for efficacy analysis of weight (primary) and eating, exercise and mindfulness (secondary outcomes). Results Retention rate was 76.1 % (n=35). A significant group by time interaction (p=0.03) was found for weight, with weight loss favoring SBWP+MM (-6.9 kg+2.9) over SBWP (-4.1 kg+2.8). Eating behaviors (p=0.02) and dietary restraint (p=0.02) improved significantly in SBWP+MM, compared to SBWP. MM enhanced weight loss by 2.8 kg potentially through greater improvements in eating behaviors and dietary restraint. Conclusions These findings support further study into the use of MM strategies with overweight and obese adults. The use of this low-cost, portable strategy with standard behavioral interventions could improve weight management outcomes.
Keywords: behavioral weight loss; eating behaviors; mindfulness meditation; obesity.