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Background: Yoga may provide a strategy for healthy weight management in young adults. This study examined prevalence and characteristics of young adults’ yoga practice and associations with changes in body mass index. Methods: Surveys were completed by 1830 young adults (31.1 ± 1.6 y) participating in Project EAT-IV. Cross-sectional and 5-year longitudinal analyses were conducted stratified by initial weight status. Results: Two-thirds (66.5%) of nonoverweight women and 48.9% of overweight women reported ever doing yoga, while 27.2% of nonoverweight women and 16.4% of overweight women practiced regularly (≥30 min/wk). Fewer men practiced yoga. Among young adults practicing regularly (n = 294), differences were identified in intensity, type, and location of yoga practice across weight status. Young adults who were overweight and practiced yoga regularly showed a nonsignificant 5-year decrease in their body mass index (−0.60 kg/m2; P = .49), whereas those not practicing regularly had significant increases in their body mass index (+1.37 kg/m2; P < .01). Frequency of yoga was inversely associated with weight gain among both overweight and nonoverweight young adults practicing yoga regularly. Conclusions: Young adults of different body sizes practice yoga. Yoga was associated with less weight gain over time, particularly in overweight young adults. Practicing yoga on a regular basis may help with weight gain prevention.
Neumark-Sztainer, MacLehose, Watts, Laska and Larson are with the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Eisenberg is with Dept of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.