A Pilot Study of an Integrated Diet/Exercise and Stress-Reduction Meditation Intervention for Obesity with Metabolic Syndrome Features

Investigator: Frederick M. Hecht, MD
Sponsor: Mount Zion Health Fund

Location(s): United States


Craving and Lifestyle Management Through Mindfulness Pilot Study (CALMM)

The purpose of this study is to determine whether an innovative program that combines mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindful eating practices with diet and exercise guidelines (CALMM+ intervention) will lead to greater weight loss and more favorable body fat distribution than a conventional weight-loss program(Diet-Ex intervention).

Obesity is an important growing epidemic, with about 65% of Americans overweight (Flegal, Carroll et al. 2002). Psychological stress is widely cited anecdotally as a factor that causes people to engage in overeating, and studies provide strong evidence that stress can promote obesity. Stress induces selective preference of sweet, high-fat food and increases visceral fat depots. Chronic stress has also been shown to impair immune responses, including decreasing immune responses to vaccination. The proposed study will pilot test an innovative program that combines stress reduction and mindful eating practices with diet and exercise, Craving and Lifestyle Management through Mindfulness (CALMM+). This program will be compared with diet and exercise intervention alone (Diet-Ex). Approximately 20 persons will be randomized to the two groups, which will meet weekly for 16 weeks. Key outcome measures are weight, fat distribution (as measured by waist/hip ratio), perceived stress, and mood. These measures will be assessed in visits performed at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. Data from this study are intended to provide pilot data for use in planning a larger randomized, controlled trial that will compare the effects of the CALMM+ and Diet-Ex interventions on the metabolic and psychological processes assessed in this pilot study.