London- US researchers in Pennsylvania have developed a medical program to reduce anxiety through meditation and body awareness. Eight weeks later, researchers concluded that the program not only reduces stress, but could also lower blood sugar.
Dr. Nazia Raja-Khan from College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania told Reuters Health the study suggests that this program could be a useful tool for preventing or treating diabetes in patients with overweight or obesity.
The program known as “MBSR”, is an intensive instructor-led training program and incorporates meditation, body awareness and other anxiety-reducing techniques. It was originally developed decades ago at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester to help patients manage pain and stress while being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses.
MBSR training has been shown to reduce stress and therefore might reduce the risk of heart disease in overweight or obese individuals, though this has yet to be proven, Raja Khan’s team writes in the journal Obesity.
The researchers assigned 86 women to eight weeks of either MBSR training or a health education program focusing on diet and exercise. They told both groups that the main focus of the study was stress reduction.
After eight weeks and again after 16 weeks, they compared changes in stress levels, mood, quality-of-life, sleep quality, blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and other measures.
After eight weeks, the MSBR group had a greater improvement in mindfulness and a greater decrease in feelings of stress, compared with the health education group. Perceived stress remained lower in the MBSR group after 16 weeks.
Women in the MBSR group also had lower blood sugar, after eight and 16 weeks compared to before the training, while women in the health education group had no change in blood sugar.
After MBSR or health education, both groups had less overall psychological stress, less anxiety and better sleep, but neither group had lost weight, lowered their inflammation or cholesterol levels or improved their responses to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar.
Raja-Khan told Reuters Health that further studies are needed to determine more long-term benefits of MBSR in overweight/obesity and to confirm the role of MBSR in diabetes prevention and treatment.