A Significant Connection between Mindfulness and Binge Eating

Researchers from Colorado State University and the National Institutes of Health examined the relationship between dispositional mindfulness to binge eating and associated eating attitudes and behaviors among adolescent girls at risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D).

One hundred fourteen overweight or obese girls with a family history of T2D and mild depressive symptoms were enrolled in the study.

The researchers collected adolescent self-reports of mindfulness, eating in the absence of hunger, and depressive symptoms. They also interviewed them to determine presence of binge eating episodes, and used a behavioral task to assess the reinforcing value of food vs. other non-snack food rewards. They also assessed body composition through dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.

In analyses that accounted for race, percent body fat, lean mass, height, age, and depressive symptoms, dispositional mindfulness was significantly associated with a lower odds of binge eating (p = .002).

Mindfulness was also inversely associated with eating concern, eating in the absence of hunger, in response to fatigue or boredom, and higher food reinforcement relative to physical activity (all p < .05).

The investigators conclude that in girls with a family history of T2D, independent of body composition and depressive symptoms, it appears that there is a relationship between mindfulness and binge eating, along with associated attitudes and behaviors that may confer risk for obesity and metabolic problems.

Further research is needed to determine the extent to which mindfulness plays a role in the etiology and/or maintenance of disinhibited eating in adolescents at risk for T2D.

Citation: Pivarunas B1, Kelly NR2,3, Pickworth CK2, Cassidy O2,4, Radin RM2,4, Shank LM2,4, Vannucci A2,4, Courville AB5, Chen KY6, Tanofsky-Kraff M2,4, Yanovski JA2, Shomaker LB2,3. Mindfulness and eating behavior in adolescent girls at risk for type 2 diabetes. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2015 Sep;48 (6): pp. 563-9. doi: 10.1002/eat.22435. Epub 2015 Jul 14.