A pilot open-label feasibility trial examining an adjunctive mindfulness intervention for adolescents with obesity
Background: Obesity in adolescence is predictive of obesity in adulthood and risk for chronic disease. Traditional behavioral approaches to addressing obesity in adolescence rarely yield meaningful changes in body mass index (BMI), suggesting that adjunctive treatments are necessary. Herein, we describe a study examining whether it is feasible to integrate a brief mindfulness intervention with the usual recommended care for adolescent obesity in a pediatric weight management clinic. Methods: We conducted a single arm open-label trial with 11 adolescent patients with obesity. Participants received the recommended standard of medical management of obesity (usual care) plus a six-week mindfulness intervention. To assess our primary aim of feasibility, we examined recruitment, retention, and satisfaction rates. Participants also completed measures of mindfulness, emotion regulation, disordered eating, quality of life, and executive functioning, and had their BMI and blood pressure measured. Results: We recruited 11 adolescents to participate in the intervention, with 8 (73%) completing the entire program. Attendance rates (85%) and satisfaction rates (100%) were promising for a larger trial. While preliminary analyses of changes in health outcomes should be examined with caution, effect sizes ranged from small to large with some promising trends in eating behaviors. Discussion: It might be feasible to augment existing behavioral interventions for adolescents with obesity with brief mindfulness; however, some adaptations are needed to enhance recruitment and retention. The lessons learned in this feasibility study can inform an adequately powered efficacy trial.