Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Distress, Weight Gain, and Glucose Control for Pregnant Low-Income Women

April 16, 2019
Cassandra Vieten

A Quasi-Experimental Trial Using the ORBIT Model

Epel, E., Laraia, B., Coleman-Phox, K., Leung, C., Vieten, C., et al. (2019) International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 26: 461.


Stress can lead to excessive weight gain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction that incorporates mindful eating shows promise for reducing stress, overeating, and improving glucose control. No interventions have tested mindfulness training with a focus on healthy eating and weight gain during pregnancy, a period of common excessive weight gain. Here, we test the effectiveness of such an intervention, the Mindful Moms Training (MMT), on perceived stress, eating behaviors, and gestational weight gain in a high-risk sample of low income women with overweight/obesity.


We conducted a quasi-experimental study assigning 115 pregnant women to MMT for 8 weeks and comparing them to 105 sociodemographically and weight equivalent pregnant women receiving treatment as usual. Our main outcomes included weight gain (primary outcome), perceived stress, and depression.


Women in MMT showed significant reductions in perceived stress (β = − 0.16) and depressive symptoms (β = − 0.21) compared to the treatment as usual (TAU) control group. Consistent with national norms, the majority of women (68%) gained excessive weight according to Institute of Medicine weight-gain categories, regardless of group. Slightly more women in the MMT group gained below the recommendation. Among secondary outcomes, women in MMT reported increased physical activity (β = 0.26) and had lower glucose post-oral glucose tolerance test (β = − 0.23), being 66% less likely to have impaired glucose tolerance, compared to the TAU group.


A short-term intervention led to significant improvements in stress, and showed promise for preventing glucose intolerance. However, the majority of women gained excessive weight. A longer more intensive intervention may be needed for this high-risk population.

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