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April 19, 2024

Pediatric Research Update | Do Mindfulness Interventions Improve Obesity Rates in Children and Adolescents: A Review of the Evidence

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Do Mindfulness Interventions Improve Obesity Rates in Children and Adolescents A Review of the Evidence

Each month, the OMA Pediatric Committee reviews a pediatric-focused obesity research update to help keep you up to date about the latest findings. This month’s update addresses mindfulness interventions in adolescents.

Do Mindfulness Interventions Improve Obesity Rates in Children and Adolescents: A Review of the Evidence

Article Summary:

The authors include a review of mindfulness interventions and how these may impact obesity rates. They discuss the current state of the evidence for multiple mindful-based interventions. The authors present a detailed discussion related to the inclusion of mindfulness-based interventions into pediatric obesity programs. Read Full Article.

Article Review:

Mindfulness has been defined as a mental state achieved by focusing on one’s experiences in the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgement. It has been shown to be effective in changing human behavior to increase health behaviors. As stress may lead to an increase in weight gain, the authors posit that mindfulness interventions might add to pediatric obesity care by decreasing stress and increasing health behaviors. To this end, the authors conducted a review of multiple mindfulness-based interventions and their impact on pediatric obesity. They reviewed the following interventions and their associations with weight loss and obesity: mindful eating, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), yoga, spirituality, and dialectic behavior therapy (DBT).

The authors provide a comprehensive overview of the evidence for these approaches, which ranges from multiple studies over years of the effectiveness of MSBR added to the treatment of multiple health conditions since the late 1970’s to the less studied intervention of spirituality included into pediatric obesity treatment. They note that while the inclusion of mindfulness interventions for the treatment of disease in children and adolescents is relatively new, especially related to pediatric obesity, multiple studies note these are promising interventions to add to holistic pediatric weight management. Several studies point to these interventions either helping to stabilize or decrease BMI, as well as showing improvements in mood symptoms and physiological comorbidities related to increased adiposity.

The authors’ work is an important contribution to the field as we think about ways to continue to develop multidisciplinary, holistic pediatric obesity treatments, that address the health of children and adolescents overall. By including additional interventions that help children and adolescents implement nutritional and physical activity recommendations given to them by weight management providers, children, adolescents, and families will feel more able to adhere to these recommendations. The important review by Keck-Kesster and colleagues highlights the role that various mindfulness-based interventions might play in creating more holistic pediatric weight management treatment that addresses eating behavior, mood, and stress as well as a decrease in adiposity.

Keck-Kester T, Huerta-Saenz L, Spotts R, Duda L, Raja-Khan N. Do Mindfulness Interventions Improve Obesity Rates in Children and Adolescents: A Review of the Evidence. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2021 Nov 25;14:4621-4629. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S220671. PMID: 34858040; PMCID: PMC8629947.

Article reviewed by:

Chaves photo 2023

Eileen Chaves, PhD, MSc

Dr. Chaves is a pediatric psychologist at the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH. Her clinical work and research focuses on better understanding how mental health, family dynamics, and therapeutic alliance affects the treatment of childhood and adolescent obesity.