Are you concerned about your child’s weight? So is the rest of the country. In the past three decades, childhood obesity has doubled, and has been subsequently linked to a myriad of both physical and emotional issues. Childhood obesity can also create negative patterns in both activity levels and eating habits.
But now, new research published in Heliyon suggests that there is a reason why many children (and adults, too) overeat, and it has to do with feelings of mindfulness.
Mindfulness therapy is the act of observing thoughts and feelings from a curious, objective distance while still living in the moment. According to the study, conducted at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, mindfulness could be the key to not only curbing rates of childhood obesity, but helping children mind their dietary habits.
“We know the brain plays a big role in obesity in adults, but what we understand about the neurological connections associated with obesity might not apply to children,” said the study’s lead author BettyAnn Chodkowski, a researcher from the School of Medicine, in a press release. “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.”
During the study, researchers found that some children’s brained appeared to be wired in a way that encouraged overeating. Rather than their condition be a moral failing, the research attributes this to a biological condition.
But with mindfulness training, the researchers believe that it’s possible to counteract these neural connections without directly exercising or changing their diet.
In Heliyon, the researchers wrote that an active ability to stay focused in the now “”may recalibrate the imbalance in neural systems” that are associated with the said biological condition.
Undoubtedly, America has a food problem. Today, 40% of daily calories for children between the ages of two and 18 consist of empty calories from added sugars and solid fats. However, with mindfulness training, perhaps children can learn to differentiate when they’re eating for hunger or for boredom, which will effectively help to curb overeating and weight gain.