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

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Movement and Mind-Body Therapies | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


PURPOSE: 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.

METHODS: 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/m(2).

RESULTS: 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).

CONCLUSIONS: 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.


Adiposity, Epidemiology, Mindfulness, Obesity, Prevention

DOI of Published Version



Int J Behav Med. 2016 Apr;23(2):224-33. doi: 10.1007/s12529-015-9513-z. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International journal of behavioral medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID