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Evidence Summary

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Mindfulness training helps decrease impulsive and binge eating and increase physical activity 

Ruffault A,Czernichow S, Hagger MS, et al.. The effects of mindfulness training on weight-loss and health-related behaviours in adults with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. 2016.

Review question

Does mindfulness training help people with overweight and obesity lose weight, decrease impulsive and binge eating and increase physical activity?

Background

Obesity is a common condition that can result from many factors, including eating impulsively, binge eating, overeating in response to stress or depression, and physical inactivity. Research has suggested that these factors can be controlled with mindfulness training, which teaches people to be more conscious and aware of their present thoughts, feelings and experiences. Mindfulness can also help to reduce stress and depression, which are major contributors to binge and impulsive eating. Practicing mindfulness may help people recognize and reduce their food cravings, feel more motivated to exercise, and enjoy physical activity. The aim of this review was to measure whether mindfulness training improves weight loss, eating patterns and physical activity for people with overweight and obesity.

How the review was done

This is a review of 12 randomized control trials, including a total of 626 participants. All 12 studies were combined in a meta-analysis.

  • All participants were adults with overweight or obesity (body mass index ≥ 25)
  • Study participants received some form of mindfulness training focused on eating behaviour, stress reduction and/or physical activity (eg. training workshops, instructional manuals, supportive phone calls and group therapy sessions).
  • Researchers measured changes in participants’ body mass index (BMI), impulsive / binge eating habits and/or physical activity.
  • Results were compared to control groups who did not receive any mindfulness training.

What the researchers found

Mindfulness training decreased impulsive and binge eating and increased physical activity among participants. However, over the study period, people who received mindfulness training did not lose any more weight than those in control groups. Studies with longer follow-up periods (up to 6 months) showed greater impacts on weight loss and the authors suggest more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of mindfulness training.

Conclusion

Mindfulness training appears to be an effective way to help people with overweight and obesity manage impulsive or binge eating and increase physical activity.

 

 




Glossary

Control group
A group that receives either no treatment or a standard treatment.
Meta-analysis
Advanced statistical methods contrasting and combining results from different studies.

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