Mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to have a positive effect on physical and psychosocial functioning. Healthy U day program was piloted for 1 week in the summer of 2018 to teach yoga and mindfulness in a fun and supportive camp-like setting. According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, weight management programs that have 26 or more contact hours over 12 months result in significantly more weight loss. It is difficult for traditional outpatient weight management programs to achieve this number of visits. Offering a week-long summer day program is an opportunity to increase contact hours and reduce summer weight gain.
Participants were established weight management patients. Parents completed the Screen for Child Anxiety Disorders, 5-item questionnaire (SCARED-5) pre and post intervention. On the first and last day of the program participants were weighed and BMI was calculated using height obtained 1-2 weeks before program started. A paired-sample t-test was conducted to compare BMI and anxiety score before and after the day program.
Twenty-three children (12 male, 11 female; 35% white, 30% black, and 35% Hispanic) average age 10.8 ± 1.8 years, range 7-14 participated. Average BMI at the start of week was 31.1 ± 5.0, range 23.9-41.6. There was a significant decrease in weight pre (72.7kg ± 18.2) and post (72.3kg ± 18.2); t (16)= 2.83, p= 0.01 and near significant decrease in anxiety pre (2.35 ± 2.06) and post (1.82 ± 1.74); t (16)= 2.05, p=0.06. A significant negative correlation was found between age and change in anxiety r= -0.57, p=0.02.
A brief summer day program that incorporates yoga and mindfulness was successful in reducing weight and anxiety. Younger patients had more significant reductions in anxiety. Future studies are needed to determine long-term outcomes. The intervention was well received and is a promising strategy to increase contact hours and limit weight gain over the summer.