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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 5, 2017

Effect of mindfulness meditation on short-term weight loss and eating behaviors in overweight and obese adults: A randomized controlled trial

  • Kathleen C. Spadaro EMAIL logo , Kelliann K. Davis , Susan M. Sereika , Bethany B. Gibbs , John M. Jakicic and Susan M. Cohen



There is a significant health crisis with rates of obesity continuing to increase despite research and clinical standard behavioral weight loss programs (SBWP). Mindfulness meditation (MM), with demonstrated benefits on physical, psychological health, and self-regulation behaviors was explored with SBWP.


Forty-six adults (BMI=32.5±3.7 kg/m2; age=45.2±8.2 years, 87 % female, 21.7 % African American) were randomly assigned to a 6-month SBWP only (n=24) or SBWP+MM (n=22) at a university-based physical activity and weight management research center in a northeastern US city. Participants were instructed to decrease intake (1200–1500 kcal/day), increase physical activity (300 min/wk), and attend weekly SBWP or SBWP+MM sessions. SBWP+MM had the same SBWP lessons with addition of focused MM training. Outcome measures collected at 0, 3, and 6 months included: weight, Block Food Frequency Questionnaire, Eating Behavior Inventory, Eating Inventory and Paffenbarger Physical Activity Questionnaire. Data were analyzed using linear mixed modeling for efficacy analysis of weight (primary) and eating, exercise and mindfulness (secondary outcomes).


Retention rate was 76.1 % (n=35). A significant group by time interaction (p=0.03) was found for weight, with weight loss favoring SBWP+MM (−6.9 kg+2.9) over SBWP (−4.1 kg+2.8). Eating behaviors (p=0.02) and dietary restraint (p=0.02) improved significantly in SBWP+MM, compared to SBWP. MM enhanced weight loss by 2.8 kg potentially through greater improvements in eating behaviors and dietary restraint.


These findings support further study into the use of MM strategies with overweight and obese adults. The use of this low-cost, portable strategy with standard behavioral interventions could improve weight management outcomes.


The study material is original and has not been presented previously. The authors want to thank the 46 women and men who participated in this research pilot and dedicated staff of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: University of Pittsburgh, Department of Health and Physical Activity, Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Author John M. Jakicic, PhD has received research grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association in the past.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2016-5-27
Accepted: 2017-11-1
Published Online: 2017-12-5

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