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Teaching Kids 'Mindfulness' May Solve Childhood Obesity

Update Date: Jan 28, 2016 11:00 AM EST

Childhood obesity- often associated with a number of physical and psychological disorders- has seen a doubled increase in the last thirty years. Global health experts fear that if no significant action is taken to bring the surge down, it can definitely set an undesirable lifelong pattern of poor lifestyle choices including undisciplined eating behaviors.

As obesity becomes an increasingly global health problem, diet and exercise are simply not enough. A new study suggests that altering brain function may be more effective- practicing mindfulness could be the much-awaited solution to the world's obesity woes.

Mindfulness is defined as the ability to purposely focus one's attention on a particular goal. Researchers at Venderbilt University School of Medicine claim that mindfulness is a clever and helpful trick to regulate children's overeating impulses.

"We wanted to look at the way children's brains function in more detail so we can better understand what is happening neurologically in children who are obese," remarked lead author Betty Ann Chodkowski as quoted by the Science Times.

The study entailed a careful analysis of the eating habits of 38 children- with five identified as obese and six deemed as overweight- using survey questionnaires along with their MRI brain scans.

According to Eureka Alert, the results of the study show a significant connection between weight, eating behavior, and brain function. Undesirable dietary behaviors such as overeating appear to be strongly linked to impulsivity. Likewise, regulatory behaviors like deliberately avoiding food is more connected to response inhibition.

By recommending a mindfulness-oriented therapy, researchers are hoping to promote healthy eating habits among youngsters.

"We think mindfulness could recalibrate the imbalance in the brain connections associated with childhood obesity," said study co-senior author Dr. Ronald Cowan as mentioned in a report by Tech Times.

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