Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Distress, Weight Gain, and Glucose Control for Pregnant Low-Income Women: A Quasi-Experimental Trial Using the ORBIT Model

Int J Behav Med. 2019 Oct;26(5):461-473. doi: 10.1007/s12529-019-09779-2.


Background: Stress can lead to excessive weight gain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction that incorporates mindful eating shows promise for reducing stress, overeating, and improving glucose control. No interventions have tested mindfulness training with a focus on healthy eating and weight gain during pregnancy, a period of common excessive weight gain. Here, we test the effectiveness of such an intervention, the Mindful Moms Training (MMT), on perceived stress, eating behaviors, and gestational weight gain in a high-risk sample of low income women with overweight/obesity.

Method: We conducted a quasi-experimental study assigning 115 pregnant women to MMT for 8 weeks and comparing them to 105 sociodemographically and weight equivalent pregnant women receiving treatment as usual. Our main outcomes included weight gain (primary outcome), perceived stress, and depression.

Results: Women in MMT showed significant reductions in perceived stress (β = - 0.16) and depressive symptoms (β = - 0.21) compared to the treatment as usual (TAU) control group. Consistent with national norms, the majority of women (68%) gained excessive weight according to Institute of Medicine weight-gain categories, regardless of group. Slightly more women in the MMT group gained below the recommendation. Among secondary outcomes, women in MMT reported increased physical activity (β = 0.26) and had lower glucose post-oral glucose tolerance test (β = - 0.23), being 66% less likely to have impaired glucose tolerance, compared to the TAU group.

Conclusion: A short-term intervention led to significant improvements in stress, and showed promise for preventing glucose intolerance. However, the majority of women gained excessive weight. A longer more intensive intervention may be needed for this high-risk population. Clinical Trials.gov #NCT01307683.

Keywords: Depression; Gestational weight gain; Insulin resistance; Mindfulness; Pregnancy; Stress.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Diet, Healthy / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / therapy
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01307683