Background & aims: Health at Every Size® (HAES®) interventions focus on healthy lifestyle by promoting behavioral changes related to diet and physical activity while emphasizing self-acceptance and well-being through an empowerment and intuitive approach. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a HAES® program on intuitive eating and diet quality in women.
Methods: The HAES® intervention, offered by professionals from Health and Social Services Centers in Quebec (Canada), was composed of thirteen 3-h weekly meetings and a 6-h intensive day. For this study, 216 women (1.9% normal-weight, 21.1% overweight, 77.0% obese) who took part to the HAES program were compared to 110 women (3.9% normal-weight, 23.3% overweight, 72.8% obese) from a control group (waiting list). Intuitive eating was assessed using the Intuitive Eating Scale and diet quality was evaluated through the calculation of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) from a validated web-based self-administrated food frequency questionnaire. Measurements were performed at baseline, post-intervention, and at one-year follow-up.
Results: Women who participated in the HAES® program significantly increased their intuitive eating score compared to women in the control group at post-intervention and at follow-up (group by time interaction, p = 0.0002). A significant improvement in diet quality was also observed in the HAES® group in comparison with the control group at post-intervention (group by time interaction, p = 0.0139). The intuitive eating score and the HEI score were positively associated in the HAES® group at post-intervention (r = 0.20, p = 0.0237) and one-year follow-up (r = 0.22, p = 0.0359), but no such associations were noted in the control group (post-intervention, r = 0.04, p = 0.70; one-year follow-up, r = -0.15, p = 0.30).
Conclusions: The HAES® program seems effective in improving intuitive eating and also favours improvements in diet quality. However, the association between intuitive eating and diet quality remains unclear, being positive and significant only after the HAES® intervention.
Keywords: Diet quality; Health at Every Size(®); Intuitive eating; Non-diet intervention; Women.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. All rights reserved.