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



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.


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.


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).


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.

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Funding for this study was provided by NIH/NIA grant 1RC2AG036666 and NIH/NCCIH/OBBSR grant UH2AT009145.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eric B. Loucks.

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Conflict of Interest

Eric B. Loucks, Willoughby B. Britton, Chanelle J. Howe, Roee Gutman, Stephen E. Gilman, Judson Brewer, Charles B. Eaton, and Stephen L. Buka declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.



Table 4 Characteristics for participants with complete data (n = 331) vs. incomplete data (n = 69)
Table 5 Multivariable-adjusted regression analyses demonstrating change (95 % confidence limits) in waist/hip ratio and waist circumference according to Mindfulness Awareness Attention Scale (MAAS) level

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Loucks, E.B., Britton, W.B., Howe, C.J. et al. Associations of Dispositional Mindfulness with Obesity and Central Adiposity: the New England Family Study. Int.J. Behav. Med. 23, 224–233 (2016).

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  • Mindfulness
  • Obesity
  • Adiposity
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevention