Metabolic and Immunologic Effects of Meditation (SHINE)

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SHINE is a 194-person randomized, controlled clinical trial comparing an innovative mindfulness-based weight loss program to an active control group in obese, non-diabetic adults. We utilized an intervention that applies mindfulness meditation practices to obesity and metabolic syndrome. This intervention draws on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training, and it includes both diet and exercise components.

Participants were randomized to either the intervention group or a control group that received the same diet and exercise curriculum. Groups met for a total of 16 sessions over five and a half months. Participants were evaluated at 0, 3, 6, 12, and 18 months. Outcomes measured were participants’ weight loss and maintenance, fat distribution, insulin sensitivity, and perceived stress and mood.

Although mindfulness enhancements to a diet and exercise program did not show substantial weight loss benefit, they may promote long-term improvement in some aspects of metabolic health in obesity, which requires further study.

We will also examine treatment effects on psychological and biological stress processes, assessing how the mindfulness-based intervention influences stress arousal patterns, and whether changes in stress hormone patterns mediate differences in other biological outcomes, such as fat distribution and vaccine responses.  In addition, we will test the effects of the mindfulness intervention on the immune system.

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