Benefits Insights, Spring 2018
The practice of mindfulness continues to be popular in the workplace as more employers are offering mindfulness training to help overall company performance. However, there may be more benefit to this practice than initially understood. In the past year, several studies have emerged that suggest mindful eating may modify behavior that leads to obesity. Therefore, applying mindfulness as part of a weight management program may provide substantial benefits to the prevention and treatment of obesity.
Dr. Carolyn Dunn, a researcher at North Carolina State University, recently led a study focused on behavior modification that included mindful eating, or eating with greater awareness. In the journal, Current Obesity Reports, Dunn and her colleagues presented findings that show strong support for inclusion of mindful eating as a component of weight management programs, with their research linking mindful eating with reduction of food cravings, portion control, body mass index, and body weight.
Another study led by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco explored the effects of mindfulness on weight loss by randomly dividing a group of overweight adults into two groups. While both groups underwent the same diet and exercise program, one group participated in a program that focused on mindful eating practices. Findings showed that a weight loss program that included mindfulness training resulted in participants having lower metabolic risk factors such as elevated sugar levels, high blood pressure, and larger waist circumference.
A new guide from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, an organization aimed at helping employers understand the impact of obesity on the workplace, reaffirms that the cost of obesity among workers is immense and increasingly falls on employers.
However, with studies supporting the beneficial association between mindful eating and weight loss, mindfulness may offer an active method of combating obesity.