A systematic review of the psychosocial correlates of intuitive eating among adult women

Appetite. 2016 Jan 1;96:454-472. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.10.012. Epub 2015 Oct 22.


Intuitive eating has been proposed as an eating style that fosters a positive attitude towards food, the body, and physical activity. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken to examine intuitive eating in relation to disordered eating, body image, emotional functioning, and other psychosocial correlates in adult women. Articles were identified through Academic Search Complete, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Health Source (Nursing and Academic Edition), Medline Complete, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, PubMed and Scopus. Eligible studies were those that examined women aged 18 years and older, measured intuitive eating, and assessed a psychosocial correlate of intuitive eating. Twenty-four cross-sectional studies, published between 2006 and September 2015, met eligibility criteria. Intuitive eating was associated with less disordered eating, a more positive body image, greater emotional functioning, and a number of other psychosocial correlates that have been examined less extensively. However, given that all studies used cross-sectional designs, no conclusions regarding the direction of the relationship between intuitive eating and psychosocial correlates can be drawn. Participants in the majority of studies were university students in the United States so findings cannot be generalised to the wider population of female adults. Prospective studies are now needed to verify these cross-sectional findings, and show if intuitive eating may reduce disordered eating and body image concerns, and promote women's psychological health and well-being.

Keywords: Adult women; Body image; Disordered eating; Emotions; Intuitive eating; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Image / psychology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health