Associations between body weight status, psychological well-being and disordered eating with intuitive eating among Malaysian undergraduate university students

Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2017 Sep 13;32(2):/j/ijamh.2020.32.issue-2/ijamh-2017-0095/ijamh-2017-0095.xml. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2017-0095.


Intuitive eating, which can be defined as reliance on physiological hunger and satiety cues to guide eating, has been proposed as a healthy weight management strategy. To date, there has not been a published study on intuitive eating in the context of Malaysia. Therefore, this cross-sectional study aims to determine associations between body weight status, psychological well-being and disordered eating behaviors with intuitive eating among undergraduate university students. A total of 333 undergraduate respondents (21.3% males and 78.7% females) from three randomly selected faculties in a public university in Malaysia participated in this study. Respondents completed a self-administered questionnaire which featured socio-demographic characteristics, intuitive eating, self-esteem, body appreciation, general unconditional acceptance, body acceptance by others, body function and disordered eating. Body weight, height, body fat percentage and waist circumference were measured. The results from this study revealed that there was no difference (t = 0.067, p = 0.947) in intuitive eating scores between males (75.69 ± 7.16) and females (75.62 ± 7.90). Multiple linear regression results have shown that body appreciation (β = 0.385, p < 0.001) and disordered eating (β = -0.168, p = 0.001) were significant predictors of intuitive eating, which accounted for 19.6% of the variance in intuitive eating. Health promotion programs should highlight the importance of enhancing body appreciation and preventing disordered eating behaviors among university students in order to promote intuitive eating as one of the healthy weight management approaches.

Keywords: body appreciation; disordered eating; intuitive eating; psychological well-being; university students.