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Mindful eating 'helps weight loss'

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

19th May 2017 - A medical conference has heard that mindful eating can help you lose weight.

US research has been presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity being held in Porto, Portugal, which suggests increasing mindfulness when it comes to eating is an effective way to aid weight loss.

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating stems from the Buddhist practice of meditation. It's not about sticking to a specific diet, or cutting back on certain foods. Instead it's a practice that addresses your relationship with food and includes recognising appetite triggers, healthy and unhealthy food choices, and paying attention to how, when and what you eat.

It means you don't have to give up the foods you love, just eat them in a more mindful way. So maybe just having one or two bites of something you really enjoy and savouring each mouthful.

The opposite of mindful eating would be 'mindless' eating; for example eating whilst cooking, or in front of the TV or at your desk.

The study

The new research was led by Dr Carolyn Dunn, from North Carolina State University. It examined the effectiveness of an online programme developed by researchers at the University called Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less (ESMMWL). It concentrates on changing people's behaviour by, amongst other things, the use of mindful eating. So far the programme has been successfully offered to more than 16,500 people.

For the study a total of 80 participants were enrolled on a randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of ESMMWL

Forty two adults followed the 15 week weight management programme immediately and 38 were assigned to a control group who were waiting to join it.

Those who completed the programme lost more weight than those in the control group (1.9 kg compared to 0.3 kg) and had a significantly larger increase in their mindfulness scores.

The participants were followed for a further 6 months and ¾ maintained their weight loss or lost even more.


The authors say their study adds to the literature suggesting there is a beneficial association between mindful eating and weight loss. Dr Dunn acknowledges that it is "a relatively new frontier" but says: "We do a lot of work on this with healthcare providers."

The findings have been presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity. Only some aspects of the randomised controlled trial have been published so the results should be treated with caution until they have appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.

Additional reporting in Porto by Lisa Nainggolan, Medscape.

Reviewed on May 19, 2017

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