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Lesbian and bisexual women benefit from mindful eating program

Posted 08.23.2016 | by AMRA


Studies show that older lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to be overweight than their heterosexual peers, but there is a dearth of reported interventions specific to this population. Ingraham et al. [Women’s Health Issues] investigated whether mindful eating programs specifically designed for older lesbian and bisexual women can improve their physical and emotional health. The researchers also compared the outcomes of these programs with traditional diet-and-exercise programs that were also tailored for this population.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded five different interventions at five separate locations to gain information about the how to best reduce overweight status. Two of the sites adopted slightly different mindful eating approaches, while three sites opted for variations on traditional diet-and-exercise approaches. Each site designed its own program curriculum based on the concerns and beliefs of the organizations hosting the programs at each site. All five sites recruited lesbian and bisexual participants 40 years of age or older with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2. Assignment to groups was based on proximity to sites and was not randomized.

The two different mindful eating interventions were both 12-week group programs employing aspects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction along with the Health At Every Size program’s emphasis on acceptance of body size and shape, and the Intuitive Eating program’s emphasis on attending to hunger and satiety cues. The three traditional diet-and-exercise programs met 12-16 times in weekly support groups and employed techniques such as food logs, recipe handouts, gym memberships, pedometers and personal trainers. There were a total of 160 participants in the mindful eating groups, and 106 in the diet-and-exercise groups.

All participants completed assessments immediately before […]

August 23rd, 2016|News|

Mindful attention helps regulate amount of food consumed

Posted 04.15.2016 | by AMRA


Can being mindfully aware heighten the pleasure of eating? Arch et al. [Behavior Research and Therapy] addressed this question in a series of studies while also exploring whether mindfulness promotes more healthful food choices.

In the first study, 81 male and female undergraduates were randomly assigned to either a mindful eating or a distracted eating condition. Participants in the mindful eating condition were instructed to eat a series of five chocolate chips while focusing on their sensory experience. Participants in the distraction condition ate their chocolate chips while searching for hidden words in a find-a-word puzzle. Mindful participants rated their chocolate chips as significantly more enjoyable (Cohen’s d = 0.51) and had a marginally significantly greater desire to eat another chocolate chip (d = 0.38) than distracted eaters.

In the second experiment with 136 male and female undergraduates, the researchers repeated the first study using raisins instead of chocolate chips. Mindful eaters showed a marginally significant tendency to enjoy the raisins more (d = 0.27) and a significantly higher desire to eat another raisin (d = 0.39) than distracted eaters.

The researchers wanted to know if people who ate mindfully ended up consuming more calories because they enjoyed eating more, or fewer calories because their improved attention led to greater behavioral control. In the third study, 102 male and female undergraduates again ate raisins, but were randomly assigned to either a mindful eating group that was instructed to focus on their sensory experience, a distracted eating group that was told to focus on find-a-word puzzles while eating, or a “no special instructions” control. The mindful eaters again rated the raisins as significantly more enjoyable and […]

April 15th, 2016|News|

Large survey study finds mindful men and women less likely to be obese

Posted 07.27.2015 | by AMRA


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 […]

July 27th, 2015|News|

Eating for pleasure: Biomarker identified for mindful eating

Posted 06.15.2015 | by AMRA


Eating is often an enjoyable experience, and at times we eat more for pleasure (“hedonic eating”) than to provide nutrition or reduce hunger. Since pleasure occurs in response to the brain’s release of endogenous opioids (morphine-like neurotransmitters manufactured in the brain), the opioid system plays an important role in hedonic eating. This activity can be measured indirectly by administering naltrexone, an opioid-blocking drug that triggers cortisol secretion and sensations of nausea.

Prior research has shown that overweight women with larger cortisol or nausea responses to naltrexone are more prone to binge and emotional eating and less likely to gain weight during a mindfulness-based overeating intervention. Mason et al. [Appetite] sought to replicate and extend these findings in a large-scale randomized, controlled study of weight-loss programs with and without a mindfulness component.

Eighty-eight obese women (mean age = 47, mean BMI = 36 kg/m2) were randomly assigned to five-month diet-and-exercise-based weight-loss programs which included either a mindfulness component (based on MBSR and MB-EAT) or an active control component that included cognitive-behavioral techniques and progressive muscle relaxation.

Both programs involved sixteen 2 to 2.5 hour-long group sessions and one all-day session. Prior to randomization, participants were assessed for their naltrexone-induced salivary cortisol and nausea responses. Participants self-rated their food addiction, binge-eating, and reward-based, mindful, and emotional eating before and after treatment.

Participants’ naltrexone-induced cortisol responses were significantly correlated positively with reward-based eating and food addiction, and negatively with mindful eating. Participants with the largest cortisol responses in the mindfulness group showed significantly greater reduction in food addiction symptoms than participants with the largest cortisol responses in the control group.

Women who experienced naltrexone-induced nausea reported a statistically greater […]

June 15th, 2015|News|

Web-based MBI combats work stress and burnout

Posted: 08.20.2014 | by AMRA


Occupational stress is not only harmful to employees, but is also costly to employers in terms of increased health-care expenses and decreased employee attendance, morale, and performance. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) may have an important role to play in combatting occupational stress, but MBSR programs are time-intensive and often challenging to implement in the workplace, especially on a scale expansive enough to benefit large corporations.

Aikins et al. [Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine] developed an abbreviated MBI modeled after MBSR that was delivered on a web-based virtual classroom platform. The intervention makes use of a live instructor, webinar-and-email technology, and a printed workbook/practice guide to deliver 7, 1 hour-long, virtual classes and support 10.8 hours of home-based practice. The durations of the body scan, meditation, and yoga sessions were shortened to accommodate the hour-long format, there was no daylong retreat, and workplace-relevant material was included in the syllabus.

Eighty-nine Dow Chemical Company employees were randomly assigned to either the MBI or a wait-list control. Only 66 participants completed the study, due in part to the 6 MBI and 10 wait-list control subjects who never attended a class after being initially assigned to their groups. MBI participants significantly improved their mindfulness (as measured by the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire), resilience, and physical, emotional, and cognitive vigor, and decreased their perceived stress compared with wait-list controls.

Treatment gains were maintained or continued to improve at six-month follow-up, with the exception of a small, non-significant rise in perceived stress. MBI participants reported significant decreases in high-stress days, burnout, and fast-food consumption, as well as increases in fruit and vegetable consumption.

Eighty-seven percent of the participants rated the program as […]

August 11th, 2014|News|

Worker safety practices accounted for by mindfulness

Posted: 08.04.2014 | by AMRA


Food service industry workers (e.g., cooks, waiters, and busboys) are expected to keep their productivity high and their customers happy under trying circumstances. Maintaining awareness of food safety to prevent the spread of foodborne disease is a central worker role.

In day-to-day operations, workers are expected to be aware of and reject previously thawed deliveries, heat foods to their proper temperature, and maintain hygiene through proper hand washing and food handling. Food service workers do not always follow safety protocols, however, and sometimes get distracted or misjudge priorities.

Betts & Hinsz [Current Psychology] explored the degree to which dispositional mindfulness (as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale) might contribute to employees’ attention to safety. Study measures included the dispositional mindfulness, food safety knowledge, and self-reported safety practices of 428 university students who worked at least part-time in the food service industry.

Results from the study showed that knowledge of food safety protocols alone accounted for only 3% of the actual variance in employees’ food safety practices. When dispositional mindfulness and its differential relationship with differing levels of food safety knowledge were taken into consideration, however, about 15% of the variance in food safety was explained. Mindfulness was positively correlated (r = 0.35) with food service safety practice. Especially important was that the less workers actually knew about food safety, the more mindfulness contributed to safety practice.

The study suggests that level of dispositional mindfulness is an important variable in determining the extent to which food service workers safely carry out their work responsibilities, but the study is limited by its reliance on self-report measures and its failure to rule out the impact of social desirability […]

August 4th, 2014|News|