Previous research has shown a negative association between mindfulness and its facets and eating problems. Few studies have examined the mechanism involved between them. As an important cognitive factor of eating problems, self-objectification may be a mediating variable in the prediction of eating problems as they relate to mindfulness. We examined the relation between mindfulness and its facets and eating problems using an ambulatory assessment and follow-up test as well as the mediating effect of self-objectification. A total of 106 college students were recruited to complete the full study. State mindfulness, state self-objectification, and eating problems in daily life were measured by an ambulatory assessment. Trait self-objectification and overall eating problems were measured at a two-month follow-up. For the ambulatory assessment, state mindfulness and five facets of mindfulness could not predict eating problems at the next moment in daily life, and there was no mediating effect of state self-objectification. For the longitudinal survey, acting with awareness, as a facet of mindfulness, can predict eating problems. Trait self-objectification mediated the relationship between acting with awareness and overall eating problems. The findings indicate that the association between mindfulness and eating problems mainly occurs at the trait level.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Adams, C. E., McVay, M. A., Kinsaul, J., Benitez, L., Vinci, C., Stewart, D. W., & Copeland, A. L. (2012). Unique relationships between facets of mindfulness and eating pathology among female smokers. Eating Behaviors, 13(4), 390–393. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2012.05.009.
Alberts, H. J. E. M., Thewissen, R., & Raes, L. (2012). Dealing with problematic eating behaviour. The effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on eating behaviour, food cravings, Dichotomous Thinking and Body Image Concern. Appetite, 58(3), 847–851. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2012.01.009.
An, Y., Schoebi, D., & Xu, W. (2018). How does mindfulness modulate daily stress response: Evidences from ambulatory assessment. Psychology & Health, 34(3), 355–367. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2018.1539488.
Atkinson, M. J., & Wade, T. D. (2014). Does mindfulness have potential in eating disorders prevention? A preliminary controlled trial with young adult women. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 10(3), 234–245. https://doi.org/10.1111/eip.12160.
Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13(1), 27–45. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191105283504.
Bolger, N., & Laurenceau, J. (2013). Intensive longitudinal methods: An introduction to diary and experience sampling research (methodology in the social sciences) (Illustrated ed.). The Guilford Press.
Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.112.
Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., Loverich, T. M., Biegel, G. M., & West, A. M. (2011). Out of the armchair and into the streets: Measuring mindfulness advances knowledge and improves interventions: Reply to Grossman (2011). Psychological Assessment, 23(4), 1041–1046. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025781.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Cosme, D., & Wiens, S. (2015). Self-reported trait mindfulness and affective reactivity: A motivational approach using multiple psychophysiological measures. PLoS One, 10(3), e0119466. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0119466.
Cox, A. E., Ullrich-French, S., Cole, A. N., & D’Hondt-Taylor, M. (2016). The role of state mindfulness during yoga in predicting self-objectification and reasons for exercise. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 22, 321–327. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2015.10.001.
Ding, X., Du, J., Zhou, Y., An, Y., Xu, W., & Zhang, N. (2019). State mindfulness, rumination, and emotions in daily life: An ambulatory assessment study. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 22(4), 369–377. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajsp.12383.
Dunne, J. P., Shindul-Rothschild, J., White, L., Lee, C. S., & Wolfe, B. E. (2019). Mindfulness in persons with anorexia nervosa and the relationships between eating disorder symptomology, anxiety and pain. Eating Disorders, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2019.1688009.
Enkema, M. C., McClain, L., Bird, E. R., Halvorson, M. A., & Larimer, M. E. (2020). Associations between mindfulness and mental health outcomes: A systematic review of ecological momentary assessment research. Mindfulness, 11(11), 2455–2469. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01442-2.
Fairburn, C. G., & Bohn, K. (2005). Eating disorder NOS (EDNOS): An example of the troublesome “not otherwise specified” (NOS) category in DSM-IV. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43(6), 691–701. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2004.06.011.
Fairburn, C. G., Cooper, Z., Bohn, K., O’Connor, M. E., Doll, H. A., & Palmer, R. L. (2007). The severity and status of eating disorder NOS: Implications for DSM-V. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45(8), 1705–1715. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2007.01.010.
Favaro, A., Caregaro, L., Tenconi, E., Bosello, R., & Santonastaso, P. (2009). Time trends in age at onset of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70(12), 1715–1721. https://doi.org/10.4088/jcp.09m05176blu.
Fisher, A. J., Medaglia, J. D., & Jeronimus, B. F. (2018). Lack of group-to-individual generalizability is a threat to human subjects research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(27), E6106–E6115. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1711978115.
FRANKO, D. E. B. R. A. L., & OMORI, M. I. K. A. (1999). Subclinical eating disorders in adolescent women: A test of the continuity hypothesis and its psychological correlates. Journal of Adolescence, 22(3), 389–396. https://doi.org/10.1006/jado.1999.0230.
Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T.-A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding Women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21(2), 173–206. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.
Gu, L., Chen, J., Huang, Y., Kang, Q., Huang, J. B., He, Y. L., & Xiao, Z. P. (2017). Validity and reliability of the Chinese version of the eating disorder examination questionnaire 6.0 in female patients with eating disorders. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 31(05), 350–355.
Hayes, A. F., & Scharkow, M. (2013). The relative trustworthiness of inferential tests of the indirect effect in statistical mediation analysis. Psychological Science, 24(10), 1918–1927. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613480187.
Hong, P. Y., Lishner, D. A., & Han, K. H. (2012). Mindfulness and eating: An experiment examining the effect of mindful raisin eating on the enjoyment of sampled food. Mindfulness, 5(1), 80–87. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-012-0154-x.
Jo, D., Spencer, S, D., & Masuda, A. (2020). Mindfulness attenuates the positive association between disordered eating cognition and disordered eating behavior in a sample of college women. Current Psychology, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00969-w.
Juarascio, A., Shaw, J., Forman, E., Timko, C. A., Herbert, J., Butryn, M., Bunnell, D., Matteucci, A., & Lowe, M.(2013). Acceptance and commitment therapy as a novel treatment for eating disorders. Behavior Modification, 37(4), 459–489. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145445513478633.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156. https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy/bpg016.
Keng, S.-L., & Ang, Q. (2019). Effects of mindfulness on negative affect, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating urges. Mindfulness, 10(9), 1779–1791. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01146-2.
Koval, P., Holland, E., Zyphur, M. J., Stratemeyer, M., Knight, J. M., Bailen, N. H., Thompson, R. J., Roberts, T.-A., & Haslam, N. (2019). How does it feel to be treated like an object? Direct and indirect effects of exposure to sexual objectification on women’s emotions in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116(6), 885–898. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000161.
Kristeller, J. L., & Jordan, K. D. (2018). Mindful eating: Connecting with the wise self, the spiritual self. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01271.
Lattimore, P., Mead, B. R., Irwin, L., Grice, L., Carson, R., & Malinowski, P. (2017). ‘I can’t accept that feeling’: Relationships between interoceptive awareness, mindfulness and eating disorder symptoms in females with, and at-risk of an eating disorder. Psychiatry Research, 247, 163–171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2016.11.022.
Lavender, J. M., Gratz, K. L., & Tull, M. T. (2011). Exploring the relationship between facets of mindfulness and eating pathology in women. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 40(3), 174–182. https://doi.org/10.1080/16506073.2011.555485.
Le Grange, D., Swanson, S. A., Crow, S. J., & Merikangas, K. R. (2012). Eating disorder not otherwise specified presentation in the US population. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(5), 711–718. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22006.
Levin, M. E., Dalrymple, K., Himes, S., & Zimmerman, M. (2014). Which facets of mindfulness are related to problematic eating among patients seeking bariatric surgery? Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 298–305. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.03.012.
Lindner, D., Tantleff-Dunn, S., & Jentsch, F. (2012). Social Comparison and the ‘Circle of Objectification’. Sex Roles, 67(3–4), 222–235. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0175-x.
Lipson, S. K., & Sonneville, K. R. (2017). Eating disorder symptoms among undergraduate and graduate students at 12 U.S. colleges and universities. Eating Behaviors, 24, 81–88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.12.003.
Litmanen, J., Fröjd, S., Marttunen, M., Isomaa, R., & Kaltiala-Heino, R. (2016). Are eating disorders and their symptoms increasing in prevalence among adolescent population? Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 71(1), 61–66. https://doi.org/10.1080/08039488.2016.1224272.
Masuda, A., Price, M., & Latzman, R. D. (2011). Mindfulness moderates the relationship between disordered eating cognitions and disordered eating behaviors in a non-clinical college sample. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 34(1), 107–115. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-011-9252-7.
McKinley, N. M., & Hyde, J. S. (1996). The objectified body consciousness scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20(2), 181–215. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1996.tb00467.x.
Merwin, R. M., Timko, C. A., Moskovich, A. A., Ingle, K. K., Bulik, C. M., & Zucker, N. L. (2010). Psychological inflexibility and symptom expression in anorexia nervosa. Eating Disorders, 19(1), 62–82. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2011.533606.
Mond, J. M., Hay, P. J., Rodgers, B., Owen, C., & Beumont, P. J. V. (2004). Validity of the eating disorder examination questionnaire (EDE-Q) in screening for eating disorders in community samples. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42(5), 551–567. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0005-7967(03)00161-x.
Nussbaum, M. C. (1995). Objectification. Philosophy Public Affairs, 24(4), 249–291. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1088-4963.1995.tb00032.x.
Omiwole, M., Richardson, C., Huniewicz, P., Dettmer, E., & Paslakis, G. (2019). Review of mindfulness-related interventions to modify eating behaviors in adolescents. Nutrients, 11(12), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11122917.
Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40(3), 879–891. https://doi.org/10.3758/brm.40.3.879.
Prowse, E., Bore, M., & Dyer, S. (2013). Eating disorder symptomatology, body image, and mindfulness: Findings in a non-clinical sample. Clinical Psychologist, 17(2), 77–87. https://doi.org/10.1111/cp.12008.
Raudenbush, S. W., Bryk, A. S., Cheong, Y. F., Jr., R. C. T., & Toit, D. M. (2016). HLM7 Hierarchical Linear and Nonlinear Modeling User Manual: User Guide for Scientific Software International’s (S.S.I.) Program (1st ed.). Scientific Software International, Incorporated.
Roemer, L., Lee, J. K., Salters-Pedneault, K., Erisman, S. M., Orsillo, S. M., & Mennin, D. S. (2009). Mindfulness and emotion regulation difficulties in generalized anxiety disorder: Preliminary evidence for independent and overlapping contributions. Behavior Therapy, 40(2), 142–154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2008.04.001.
Sala, M., & Levinson, C. A. (2017). A longitudinal study on the association between facets of mindfulness and disinhibited eating. Mindfulness, 8(4), 893–902. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0663-0.
Sala, M., Vanzhula, I. A., & Levinson, C. A. (2018). A longitudinal study on the association between facets of mindfulness and eating disorder symptoms in individuals diagnosed with eating disorders. European Eating Disorders Review, 27(3), 295–305. https://doi.org/10.1002/erv.2657.
Sala, M., Brosof, L. C., & Levinson, C. A. (2019). Repetitive negative thinking predicts eating disorder behaviors: A pilot ecological momentary assessment study in a treatment seeking eating disorder sample. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 112, 12–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2018.11.005.
Sala, M., Shankar Ram, S., Vanzhula, I. A., & Levinson, C. A. (2020). Mindfulness and eating disorder psychopathology: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(6), 834–851. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23247.
Sarra, S, R., & Abar, C, C. (2020). Perceptions of control and disordered eating behaviors during college transitions. Journal of American College Health, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2020.1842745.
Schaefer, L. M., & Thompson, J. K. (2018). Self-objectification and disordered eating: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 51(6), 483–502. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22854.
Schaefer, L. M., Engel, S. G., & Wonderlich, S. A. (2020). Ecological momentary assessment in eating disorders research: recent findings and promising new directions. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 33(6), 528–533. https://doi.org/10.1097/yco.0000000000000639.
Smink, F. R. E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2013). Epidemiology, course, and outcome of eating disorders. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 26(6), 543–548. https://doi.org/10.1097/yco.0b013e328365a24f.
Steinglass, J., & Walsh, B. T. (2006). Habit learning and anorexia nervosa: A cognitive neuroscience hypothesis. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39(4), 267–275. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20244.
Tanhan, A., & Francisco, V. T. (2019). Muslims and mental health concerns: A social ecological model perspective. Journal of Community Psychology, 47(4), 964–978. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22166.
Tanhan, A., & Strack, R. W. (2020). Online photovoice to explore and advocate for Muslim biopsychosocial spiritual wellbeing and issues: Ecological systems theory and ally development. Current Psychology, 39(6), 2010–2025. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00692-6.
Treasure, J., Duarte, T. A., & Schmidt, U. (2020). Eating disorders. The Lancet, 395(10227), 899–911. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(20)30059-3.
Trull, T. J., & Ebner-Priemer, U. (2014). The role of ambulatory assessment in psychological science. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(6), 466–470. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721414550706.
Vanzhula, I. A., & Levinson, C. A. (2020). Mindfulness in the treatment of eating disorders: Theoretical rationale and hypothesized mechanisms of action. Mindfulness, 11(5), 1090–1104. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01343-4.
Wacker, E. C. (2018). Application of the feminist-relational model for the treatment of subclinical eating disorders. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 30(2), 71–89. https://doi.org/10.1080/08952833.2018.1426947.
Warren, J. M., Smith, N., & Ashwell, M. (2017). A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: Effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews, 30(2), 272–283. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0954422417000154.
Wilson, D., & O’Connor, E. L. (2017). Mindfulness, personality and disordered eating. Personality and Individual Differences, 119, 7–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.06.033.
Yu, J., Song, P., Zhang, Y., & Wei, Z. (2020). Effects of mindfulness-based intervention on the treatment of problematic eating behaviors: A systematic review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 26(8), 666–679. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2019.0163.
Zhang, Z., Zyphur, M. J., & Preacher, K. J. (2008). Testing multilevel mediation using hierarchical linear models. Organizational Research Methods, 12(4), 695–719. https://doi.org/10.1177/1094428108327450.
The authors wish to thank Xiaoyan LIU for her work on this project.
Data Availability Statement and Code Availability
We made raw data from our study available in a public repository. See https://osf.io/p3v45/
This work was supported by the [National Natural Science Foundation of China] under Grant [number 31800929]; and [Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities] under Grant [2020NTSS42].
Conflict of Interest
The authors report no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Sheng, R., Wen, X. & Xu, W. Ambulatory and longitudinal relationships between mindfulness and eating problems: The mediating role of self-objectification. Curr Psychol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-01668-w
- Eating problems
- Ambulatory assessment
- Follow-up survey