Posted 07.27.2015 | by AMRA

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More than two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. While much of the accountability for obesity can be placed on dietary patterns and food access, Camilleri et al. [PLOS ONE] investigated whether there might also be a link between dispositional mindfulness and weight. People who generally tend to be mindful might also be more attentive to and aware of hunger and satiety cues that help determine what and how much food they consume.

The researchers drew data from 63,628 French men and women participating in a 10-year, web-based, NutriNet-Santé study on eating, weight, and health who also completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Participants submitted annual data on their height and weight. Body Mass Index (BMI) scores of 25-30 kg/m2 were considered overweight, and BMIs over 30 kg/m2 were considered obese. Participants also completed questionnaires on a variety of other demographic and health variables.

Higher mindfulness was associated with being older, more active, better educated, more likely to be an ex-smoker, and more likely to make use of various relaxation techniques. Women who were more mindful were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese, and had significantly lower BMIs (mean BMI for lowest FFMQ quartile = 24.1 kg/m2; mean BMI for highest FFMQ quartile = 23.5 kg/m2).

Mindful men were not less likely to be overweight, but were significantly less likely to be obese. In women, the FFMQ Observing, Describing, Acting with Awareness, and Non-Reactivity subscales were all inversely correlated with overweight and obesity. In men, only the FFMQ Observing and Non-Reactivity subscales correlated inversely with overweight or obesity.

This large study identifies a small yet significant inverse relationship between dispositional mindfulness and obesity in both men and women. Although other behavioral and environmental factors feed most of the obesity epidemic, mindfulness in daily life has a small, yet possibly important, effect when considering its influence on the population at large.

Reference:

Camilleri, G. M., Méjean, C., Bellisle, F., Hercberg, S., & Péneau, S. (2015). Association between mindfulness and weight status in a general population from the nutrinet-santé study. PLoS ONE, 10(6), e0127447.

[Link to abstract]