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Appetite. 2013 Nov;70:22-30. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.06.082. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Intuitive eating is associated with interoceptive sensitivity. Effects on body mass index.

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Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tuebingen, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tuebingen, Germany.


Intuitive eating is relevant for adaptive eating, body weight and well-being and impairments are associated with dieting and eating disorders. It is assumed to depend on the ability to recognize one's signs of hunger and fullness and to eat accordingly. This suggests a link to the individual ability to perceive and processes bodily signals (interoceptive sensitivity, IS) which has been shown to be associated with emotion processing and behavior regulation. This study was designed to clarify the relationships between IS as measured by a heartbeat perception task, intuitive eating and body mass index (BMI) in N=111 healthy young women. Intuitive eating was assessed by the Intuitive Eating Scale (IES) with three facets, reliance on internal hunger and satiety cues (RIH), eating for physical rather than emotional reasons (EPR), and unconditional permission to eat when hungry (UPE). IS was not only positively related to total IES score and RIH and EPR, and negatively predicted BMI, but also proved to fully mediate the negative relationship between RIH, as well as EPR and BMI. Additionally, the subjective appraisal of one's interoceptive signals independently predicted EPR and BMI. IS represents a promising mechanism in research on eating behavior and body weight.


Adaptive behavior; Body mass index; Heartbeat perception; Interoceptive sensitivity; Intuitive eating; Well-being

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