US Registered Dietitian Nutritionists' Knowledge and Attitudes of Intuitive Eating and Use of Various Weight Management Practices

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Sep;117(9):1419-1428. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.04.017. Epub 2017 Jun 13.


Background: Researchers have been advocating for a new weight-inclusive paradigm that focuses on health rather than weight. One important component of this model is intuitive eating. Although registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) are the nation's food and nutrition experts, RDNs' knowledge of and attitudes toward intuitive eating and use of traditional or restrictive strategies are unknown.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to characterize RDNs' knowledge of and attitudes toward an intuitive eating lifestyle and describe use of traditional weight management and nonrestrictive lifestyle practices with clients.

Design: This was a cross-sectional study.

Participants: A validated survey was distributed using online survey software to 88,834 RDNs.

Results: There were 18,622 respondents who completed the survey (25%). The majority of RDNs were knowledgeable about intuitive eating, answering 71% of items correctly. The majority of RDNs had a positive view on each attitude item. RDNs who work in weight management reported using nonrestrictive/intuitive eating practices more than traditional/restrictive practices. RDNs who were women (P<0.001), had advanced education (P<0.001), worked in a private practice setting (P<0.001), completed at least one certificate of training in weight management (P<0.001), had more experience in weight management counseling (P<0.001), and had greater intuitive eating knowledge (P<0.001) were more likely to report greater use of nonrestrictive/intuitive eating practices.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence that RDNs are using an intuitive eating approach more often than traditional weight management practices.

Keywords: Nonrestrictive/intuitive eating practices; Registered dietitian nutritionists; Traditional/restrictive practices; Weight management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Counseling / methods
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Intuition
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritionists / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods*