Methods: PubMed and CINAHL databases were searched using the key terms “mindful eating” and “weight.” Inclusion criteria were: (1) included mindful eating in an intervention or as a dependent variable, (2) focused on weight or weight-related co-morbidities, (3) quantitative data, (4) published in peer-reviewed journals, (5) published in English. Reviews, commentaries, case studies, and articles focusing on eating behaviors not in support of beneficial weight loss were excluded.
Results: A total of 19 out of 46 retrieved articles were included in this review. Sample sizes ranged from 10 to 1,314 participants and the mean body mass index in most studies was >30 kg/m2, indicating that a majority of participants were obese. Obesity-related eating behaviors found in the literature included emotional eating, external eating, reward-based eating, hedonistic eating, homeostatic eating, binge eating, and restrained eating. Mindful eating interventions were shown to decrease weight, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, C-reactive protein, fasting glucose, and HgA1C.
Conclusions: The results from this systematic review of literature suggest promising benefits for the use of mindful eating interventions for weight loss and weight maintenance, as well as for weight-related co-morbidities. Mindful eating has the potential to help individuals gain awareness of eating tendencies, which could prevent excessive calorie consumption and thereby reduce or maintain weight. By applying the principles of mindful eating, individuals may be able to recognize and follow internal hunger cues, rather than be driven by external cues or internal cues that are based on emotions or other non-biologically-driven cues, which may ultimately lead to weight loss and maintenance.
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