Produce Long-Term Improvements in Depression and Insulin Resistance in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Produce Long-Term Improvements in Depression and Insulin Resistance in Adolescents with Mindfulness


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“So like with so many topics related to type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance can be avoided, and reversed, through living healthfully and mindfully.” – Defeat Diabetes Foundation


Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. This suggests that mindfulness training may be able to reduce insulin resistance in adolescents at risk for Type II diabetes.


In today’s Research News article “One-Year Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial Piloting a Mindfulness-Based Group Intervention for Adolescent Insulin Resistance.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:, Shomaker and colleagues recruited overweight and obese adolescent girls (12-17 years of age) with a family history of Type II Diabetes. They were randomly assigned to receive a 6-week program of either a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) or a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) depression prevention. They were measured before and after the interventions and 1-year later for mindfulness, insulin resistance, depression, body size, and body fat.


They found that 1 year after the interventions only the mindfulness group had significant improvement in insulin resistance. Although both groups had significant decreases in depression, the mindfulness group had significantly greater decreases than the CBT group. These findings are consistent with prior findings by this research group. But these results demonstrate that the effectiveness of mindfulness training is lasting. This suggests that mindfulness training should be recommended for adolescent girls who are overweight and obese and with a family history of Type II Diabetes. This may prevent the onset of type II diabetes in this at-risk group.


So, produce long-term improvements in depression and insulin resistance in adolescents with mindfulness.


Research shows that meditation actually helps the body regulate blood sugar by using insulin more efficiently. The stress hormone cortisol is a major contributor to insulin resistance, and meditation leads to lower cortisol levels, which in turn allows insulin to do its job properly.” – Avi Craimer


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Shomaker LB, Pivarunas B, Annameier SK, Gulley L, Quaglia J, Brown KW, Broderick P and Bell C (2019) One-Year Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial Piloting a Mindfulness-Based Group Intervention for Adolescent Insulin Resistance. Front. Psychol. 10:1040. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01040


Introduction: To explore if a brief mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) leads to sustained, improved clinical outcomes in adolescents at-risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Methods: Participants were 12–17y girls with overweight/obesity, elevated depression symptoms, and T2D family history participating in a randomized, controlled pilot trial of a six-session MBI vs. cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) group. At baseline and 1-year, mindfulness, depression, insulin resistance (IR), and body composition were assessed with validated instruments.

Results: One-year retention was 71% (n = 12) in MBI; 81% (n = 13) in CBT. At 1-year, depression decreased (Cohen’s d = 0.68) and IR decreased (d = 0.73) in adolescents randomized to MBI compared to those in CBT. There were no significant between-condition differences in mindfulness, adiposity, or BMI.

Discussion: One-year outcomes from this randomized, controlled pilot trial suggest that brief MBI may reduce depression and IR in at-risk adolescents. Replication and exploration of mechanisms within the context of a larger clinical trial are necessary.


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