Article

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 224-233

First online:

Associations of Dispositional Mindfulness with Obesity and Central Adiposity: the New England Family Study

  • Eric B. LoucksAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health Email author 
  • , Willoughby B. BrittonAffiliated withDepartment of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University School of Public HealthDepartment of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School
  • , Chanelle J. HoweAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health
  • , Roee GutmanAffiliated withDepartment of Biostatistics, Brown University School of Public Health
  • , Stephen E. GilmanAffiliated withDepartment of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthMassachusetts General Hospital, Department of Psychiatry
  • , Judson BrewerAffiliated withCenter for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • , Charles B. EatonAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public HealthDepartment of Family Medicine, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School
  • , Stephen L. BukaAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health

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Abstract

Purpose

To evaluate whether dispositional mindfulness (defined as the ability to attend nonjudgmentally to one’s own physical and mental processes) is associated with obesity and central adiposity.

Methods

Study participants (n = 394) were from the New England Family Study, a prospective birth cohort, with median age 47 years. Dispositional mindfulness was assessed using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Central adiposity was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans with primary outcomes android fat mass and android/gynoid ratio. Obesity was defined as body mass index ≥30 kg/m2.

Results

Multivariable-adjusted regression analyses demonstrated that participants with low vs. high MAAS scores were more likely to be obese (prevalence ratio for obesity = 1.34 (95 % confidence limit (CL): 1.02, 1.77)), adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, birth weight, childhood socioeconomic status, and childhood intelligence. Furthermore, participants with low vs. high MAAS level had a 448 (95 % CL 39, 857) g higher android fat mass and a 0.056 (95 % CL 0.003, 0.110) greater android/gynoid fat mass ratio. Prospective analyses demonstrated that participants who were not obese in childhood and became obese in adulthood (n = 154) had −0.21 (95 % CL −0.41, −0.01; p = 0.04) lower MAAS scores than participants who were not obese in childhood or adulthood (n = 203).

Conclusions

Dispositional mindfulness may be inversely associated with obesity and adiposity. Replication studies are needed to adequately establish whether low dispositional mindfulness is a risk factor for obesity and adiposity.

Keywords

Mindfulness Obesity Adiposity Epidemiology Prevention