Mindfulness helps obese children lose weight

February 07, 2020

Mindfulness-based therapy may help reduce stress, appetite and body weight in children with obesity and anxiety, according to a study published in Endocrine Connections. They reported that obese children on a calorie-restricted diet alongside mindfulness therapy lose more weight and are less stressed and hungry, than children on a calorie-restricted diet alone. These findings suggest that mindfulness has potential to help obese children lose more weight through dieting and may reduce their risk of serious health issues, such as high blood pressure or stroke, although further research is needed to confirm this.

Childhood obesity increases the risk of a number of detrimental medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, and can also be associated with stress and anxiety. Despite this common association, most treatment strategies don't address psychological factors and focus solely on diet and exercise. Previous studies suggest many eating disorders associated with obesity, such as binge eating, can be driven by elevated stress levels that make it more difficult to stick to dietary regimes.

Mindfulness is a psychological technique that uses meditation to increase personal awareness, and has successfully helped reduce stress associated with other diseases, such as cancer and anorexia nervosa. Therefore, combining both diet and mindfulness treatment strategies may lead to improved weight loss results in obese children, than a restricted diet alone.

In this study, Dr Mardia López-Alarcón investigated the effect of mindfulness-based therapy on stress, appetite and body weight of children with obesity and anxiety. Children selected for the study completed a self-report questionnaire to measure levels of anxiety and their body mass index was recorded. A group of 33 children were taught mindfulness skills in 2-hour guided sessions, once a week, for eight weeks, alongside a typical calorie-restricted diet. Another group of 12 children completed an eight week calorie-restricted diet only. The combined therapy led to significantly greater reductions in weight, anxiety and in the levels of two hormones related to stress and appetite, cortisol and ghrelin. Whereas an increase in anxiety and a smaller weight reduction was observed in the group on a calorie-restricted diet alone.

"Our results suggest that restricted diets may in fact increase anxiety in obese children. However, practicing mindfulness, as well dieting, may counteract this and promote more efficient weight loss," Dr López-Alarcón comments.

These findings provide evidence that mindfulness may have potential for managing anxiety and weight in obese children on calorie-restricted diets, by reducing appetite and stress hormones. The increased levels of anxiety observed in the calorie-restricted only group, suggest that current weight loss strategies should consider psychological factors, as well as physical and lifestyle factors, in order to achieve better results.

Dr López-Alarcón recommends, "The potential counter effect anxiety may have on weight loss should be considered when children are undergoing dietary restriction. Our research supports the inclusion of mindfulness as a strategy to reduce anxiety and increase the chance of successful weight loss."

However, this preliminary data compared just 33 children on the combined therapy with 12 dieting alone. Dr López-Alarcón and her team now plan to assess the potential benefits of this technique in larger groups of children.
-end-
Peer-reviewed, Observational, Humans

Society for Endocrinology

Related Obesity Articles from Brightsurf:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.

Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.

Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?

Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.

Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.

Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.

Read More: Obesity News and Obesity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.