Can yoga-dance and mindful eating be beneficial for obese and overweight women?

In a recent study published in the Nutrients Journal, researchers in Denmark performed a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effects of yoga-dance and mindful eating in reducing body weight among obese and overweight women.

Study: Effects of Mindful Eating and YogaDance among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Trial. Image Credit: GroundPicture/Shutterstock.com

Study: Effects of Mindful Eating and YogaDance among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Trial. Image Credit: GroundPicture/Shutterstock.com

Background

Many current weight loss interventions include strenuous exercise regimens and/or strict calorie-limited diets that may not be implementable in the long term. Consequently, unsuccessful attempts at weight loss may negatively impact the mental well-being of individuals.

New weight-lowering interventions such as pleasure-inclined physical exercise and mindful eating, emphasizing enjoyment and implementation, are critical for long-term compliance to reverse obesity effectively.

Mindful eating involves aligning dietary habits and eating behavior with satiety and hunger instead of calorie counting to shape eating behavior, reduce overeating tendencies, and lower body weight while enabling individuals to enjoy their meals.

Yoga-dance is a new exercise strategy amalgamating endurance-based and strength-based elements of dance and yoga for improving body compositional outcomes. Finding alternate interventions to lower body weight could improve compliance to and willingness for weight-lowering strategies, reducing the health burden of obesity.

About the study

The present study investigated whether yoga-dance and mindful eating could effectively lower body weight among obese and overweight women.

The open-label, exploratory, parallel-arm, superiority randomized control trial comprised 61 inactive, overweight, or obese [waist circumference ≥80.0 cm and/or body mass index (BMI) ≥25.0 kg per square meter) and otherwise, healthy adult women aged ≤65 years.

The individuals were assigned to one of three groups for 8.0 weeks. The groups were characterized as mindful eating only, yoga-dance only, yoga-dance and mindful eating.

The yoga-dance group attended three classes weekly, whereas the mindful eating group attended workshops every alternate week, each workshop lasting for 90.0 minutes.

The prime study outcome was fat mass, and the secondary study outcomes were BMI, body weight, fat percentage, fat-free mass (FFM), waist circumference, bone mineral density (BMD), visceral fat, quality of life (QoL), blood pressure, eating behavior, physical exercise, and caloric intake.

Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans were used to monitor FFM, fat mass, BMD, and visceral fat. For recruitment, individuals were contacted through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook and advertisements on Danish websites such as www.fors\T1\ogsperson.dk, between November 2021 and January 2022. In addition, posters and flyers were placed in Copenhagen to recruit individuals.

Data were obtained via online electronic questionnaires, including the World Health Organization (WHO) QoL questionnaire, the intuitive eating scale-2 questionnaire, and the international physical activity questionnaire (IPAQ). Baseline evaluation was performed from December 2021 to January 2022, and post-intervention evaluation was performed between March 30 and April 10, 2022.

Pregnant, lactating women, individuals engaging in >2.50 hours of mild physical exercise weekly or >1.0 hours of moderate-hard physical exercise weekly, and those with severe diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes were excluded from the analysis.

In addition, women with eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, or orthorexia, those following restrictive diets, and those who participated in any other study during the present study period were excluded.

Results

Of 61 individuals, only 39 women completed the study, with a drop-out rate of 36.0%. The median values for participant age (years),  BMI (kg/m2)m, and waist circumference (cm) were 41, 27,  and 87, respectively.

Fat mass values were lowered by 1.30 kg, 3.00 kg, and 1.80 kg among mindful eating, yoga-dance, and combined yoga-dance and mindful eating group individuals, respectively. The corresponding intervention effect size values were 0.2, 0.3, and 0.2, respectively.

The complete-case analysis findings indicated a lowering of waist circumference and fat percentage, with improved mental health-associated QoL outcomes and eating behavior in the mindful eating group and the combined yoga-dance and mindful eating group, compared to controls.

Body weight, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, and waist circumference decreased, whereas FFM, WHO-QoL scores, and energy intake increased in all intervention groups compared to controls.

Yoga-dance improved body composition more effectively than mindful eating, with larger improvements in the participants' mental well-being and eating behavior.

Similar findings were obtained after adjusting for physical exercise, alone or combined with energy intake. The overall compliance with the study interventions was low to moderate.

Conclusions

Overall, the study findings showed modest health benefits of the combined yoga-dance and mindful eating intervention, corroborating previous findings on dance, yoga, and mindful eating. The study interventions, yoga- dance and mindful eating, could be used as a feasible and widely accessible approach to reduce weight for obese and overweight women.

However, the findings must be interpreted cautiously, considering the study limitations, including low-moderate compliance, low training load, and low statistical power with a high drop-out rate.

In addition, the effects of yoga-dance intervention depend on an individual's technical skills and ability, which may have been low for many study participants due to excessive body weight and a history of inactivity.

Journal reference:
Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Written by

Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Pooja Toshniwal Paharia is an oral and maxillofacial physician and radiologist based in Pune, India. Her academic background is in Oral Medicine and Radiology. She has extensive experience in research and evidence-based clinical-radiological diagnosis and management of oral lesions and conditions and associated maxillofacial disorders.

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