Intuitive eating is inversely associated with body weight status in the general population-based NutriNet-Santé study

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 May;24(5):1154-61. doi: 10.1002/oby.21440. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Objective: To examine the relationship between intuitive eating (IE), which includes eating in response to hunger and satiety cues rather than emotional cues and without having forbidden foods, and weight status in a large sample of adults.

Methods: A total of 11,774 men and 40,389 women aged ≥18 years participating in the NutriNet-Santé cohort were included in this cross-sectional analysis. Self-reported weight and height were collected as well as IE levels using the validated French version of the Intuitive Eating Scale-2. The association between IE and weight status was assessed using multinomial logistic regression models.

Results: A higher IE score was strongly associated with lower odds of overweight or obesity in both men and women. The strongest associations were observed in women for both overweight [quartile 4 vs. 1 of IE: odds ratio, 95% confidence interval: (0.19, 0.17-0.20)] and obesity (0.09, 0.08-0.10). Associations in men were as follows: for overweight (0.43, 0.38-0.48) and obesity (0.14, 0.11-0.18).

Conclusions: IE is inversely associated with overweight and obesity which supports its importance. Although no causality can be inferred from the reported associations, these data suggest that IE might be relevant for obesity prevention and treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eating
  • Emotions
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Odds Ratio
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Satiation / physiology
  • Self Report