Contrary to popular perception, increase in mindfulness – monitoring food intake, increasing physical activity and avoiding stress eating – may not help you shed those extra kilos, a new study suggests.
“There is an aura around mindfulness intervention in weight loss and yet we need to know, in this era of evidence-based medicine, what the data tells us,” said senior author of the study Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
“But our review of the research shows we still have a long way to go to provide convincing evidence of the benefits of mindfulness for weight loss and, especially, how it may work,” Emery added.
The researchers reviewed 19 previous studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based programmes for weight loss.
Thirteen of the studies documented weight loss among participants who practised mindfulness, but all lacked either a measure of the change in mindfulness or a statistical analysis of the relationship between being mindful and dropping pounds.
In many cases, the studies lacked both.
The single study that did quantify simultaneous weight reductions and increases in mindfulness showed no relationship between the two.
Another study that documented participants’ increase in mindfulness indicated that the intervention did not affect weight loss.
“There are many interventions that incorporate a mindfulness component, but that means weight loss could be explained by factors other than mindfulness,” researcher KayLoni Olson from the Ohio State University said.
The review was published online in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.