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Mindfulness Shows Promise in Eating Disorder Prevention

With expert facilitation, mindfulness linked to reduction in weight and shape concerns

FRIDAY, June 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Mindfulness may be a promising approach for prevention of eating disorders among adolescent girls, according to a study published online June 6 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Melissa J. Atkinson, Ph.D., and Tracey D. Wade, Ph.D., from Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, conducted a school-based cluster randomized trial involving 347 adolescent girls from 19 classes who were allocated to a three-session mindfulness-based intervention, dissonance-based intervention, or classes as usual control. A subset of classes with 156 girls who received expert facilitation was analyzed separately.

The researchers found that across outcomes there were no significant intervention effects in task-shifted facilitation. Under optimal facilitation, by six-month follow-up, there were significant reductions in weight and shape concern, dietary restraint, thin-ideal internalization, eating disorder symptoms, and psychosocial impairment for students receiving mindfulness versus controls. Significant reductions were seen in sociocultural pressures for students receiving dissonance. No significant differences were seen between the two interventions. Both students and teaching staff reported moderate intervention acceptability.

“Findings show promise for the application of mindfulness in the prevention of eating disorders; however, further work is required to increase both impact and acceptability, and to enable successful outcomes when delivered by less expert providers,” the authors write.

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