Being Mindful Reduces Your Chances Of Obesity

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Nx86xdrewssexybody-3Written by: Kirsten Cowart

An awesome new study found some great news for people who are focused on being present or exhibit traits of awareness (also known as ‘dispositional mindfulness’).

Those who stay focused on their current thoughts and feelings are much less likely to have abdominal fat or be obese when compared to those who don’t have that level of present moment awareness.  

Dispositional Mindfulness Is Different Than Meditation

Dispositional mindfulness is a bit different than mindfulness meditation practice. With mindfulness meditation, people are consciously focused and actively practicing to stay in the present moment. Dispositional mindfulness is when a person naturally stays in the present moment mentally without being taught.  

“This is everyday mindfulness,” said the lead author Eric Loucks, assistant professor of epidemiology from the Brown University School of Public Health. “The vast majority of these people are not meditating.”

The 6 Point Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale

The study – which was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine – used a 6 point Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) on 394 people in the New England Family Study (NEFS).  

These participants would rate how much they agreed with various statements such as ‘I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present’ and ‘I could be experiencing some emotion and not be conscious of it until some time later.’

Researchers measured the hip and belly fat of these individuals as well using a dual energy X-ray scanner from the Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. BMI was calculated and they also learned about the participant’s lifestyle, demographics and health.

Even after considering many different factors such as socioeconomic status and smoking, the researching team determined that people with MAAS scores that were below 4 were 34% more likely to be obese, especially when compared to those who scored a 6.  

People who were found to score lower on the awareness test had about a pound of extra belly fat (448 grams) on average. This may not sound like much, but statistically, that is a lot for something that seemed like an insignificant factor.

Since all of the participants had been a part of the study since they were kids, the team of researchers were able to track their weight back to childhood and look at whether or not they were obese.  

The researchers discovered low scores among those who were not obese as children, but became obese during adulthood.  

Could Mindfulness Be Used To Stop Overeating?

Loucks and his co-authors pointed out that being mindful doesn’t necessarily help you lose weight, but it appears to help prevent excess weight gain moving forward in life.

However, the lead researcher does suggest that as humans evolved, we were predisposed to store excess calories whenever they were available. Though that tendency helped us survive early on as a species, we now live in a fast-food and TV world where that can lead to excess weight.  

Mindfulness has been researched in other studies and has been found to help people overcome their food cravings and overeating. Slowing down and experiencing a whole meal as well as seeing how you feel afterward can help you override your pull to overeat or eat unhealthy and return to a balanced healthy diet.  

“That’s where the mindfulness may come in,” Loucks said. “Being aware of each and every moment and how that’s related to what we do and how we feel.”

Researchers acknowledge that mindfulness meditation and naturally being mindful are different, but they feel that it may still be a good practice to help people with weight moving forward.  

“Awareness seems to be enough to have a small to medium effect,” Loucks said. “Then there is the question of what could we do to increase it.”

They are looking into doing clinical trials to test their theories about how mindfulness can help people lower their risk of obesity. In the past, other studies have shown promising results, but we are still learning a lot about this new practice.  

Let us know about your experiences with staying focused on the present moments in the comments below.  

Sources

Brown University. “Inherent mindfulness linked to lower obesity risk, belly fat: Dispositional mindfulness is one’s attention to present thoughts and feelings.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151020140944.htm>.

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Kirsten Campbell
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Kirsten Campbell

Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
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