Mindfulness practices as part of Weight Watchers program

Smith, Deborah. “Exploring the effects of introducing short, manageable mindfulness practises to adults seeking to lose weight in a UK Weight Watchers meeting.”  Proceedings. Dissertation projects, MA in Positive Psychology, Buckinghamshire New University, UK. pp. 43-58.

From the Abstract: Mindfulness and mindful eating are becoming recognised as effective methods in helping people to achieve a healthy weight.  Previous studies have involved relatively lengthy introductions to the practises, sometimes expecting participants to practise the mindfulness meditations for forty-five minutes per day. 

However this study examines participants’ experiences using brief introductions to mindful eating, breathing meditation and loving kindness meditation.  Integrated within a regular weekly Weight Watchers meeting, over a six week period, a fifteen minute introduction was given; a ten minute explanation and five minutes practise.  Two, five or ten minute meditations were suggested for home practise. 

Seven people out of the twenty-five participants were chosen to participate in the focus group used for feedback on the experience.  The interview explored the participants’ experiences of the practises and thematic analysis was used to identify themes within the participants’ accounts.  

The main conclusions from this study are that overweight people seeking to lose weight experience multiple benefits from the brief introductions and mindfulness practises; i.e., reduced stress, increased self-compassion and a more positive relationship with food was developed.  Participants reported an ease of engagement and unanimously wanted to continue practicing mindfulness as part of their on-going weight loss programme and possibly beyond.

Family-based mindful eating approach to youth obesity

Dalen, J., Brody, J. L., Staples, J. K., & Sedillo, D. A. (2015). Conceptual Framework for the Expansion of Behavioral Interventions for Youth Obesity: A Family-Based Mindful Eating Approach. Childhood Obesity. Abstract only. Online Ahead of Print.

Background: Currently, over 30% of US youth are overweight and 1 in 6 have metabolic syndrome, making youth obesity one of the major global health challenges of the 21st century. Few enduring treatment strategies have been identified in youth populations, and the majority of standard weight loss programs fail to adequately address the impact of psychological factors on eating behavior and the beneficial contribution of parental involvement in youth behavior change.

Methods: A critical need exists to expand treatment development efforts beyond traditional education and cognitive-behavioral programs and explore alternative treatment models for youth obesity. Meditation-based mindful eating programs represent a unique and novel scientific approach to the current youth obesity epidemic given that they address key psychological variables affecting weight.

Results: The recent expansion of mindfulness programs to include family relationships shows the immense potential for broadening the customarily individual focus of this intervention to include contextual factors thought to influence youth health outcomes.

Conclusions: This article provides an overview of how both mindful eating and family systems theory fits within a conceptual framework in order to guide development of a comprehensive family-based mindful eating program for overweight youth.