Is intuitive eating related to resting state vagal activity?

Auton Neurosci. 2018 Mar:210:72-75. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2017.11.005. Epub 2017 Nov 15.


Efferent and afferent fibers of the vagus nerve are involved in regulating hunger and satiety. Vagally-mediated heart rate variability (vmHRV) reflects vagal activity. Previously no study addressed a potential association between resting state vagal activity and intuitive eating. Self-reports on intuitive eating and measures of resting state vmHRV were obtained in 39 students (16 female, mean age: 19.64±1.44years). Hierarchical multiple regression models showed that, after controlling for gender, age, and body mass index, resting vagal activity was inversely related to the Unconditional Permission to Eat subscale of the Intuitive Eating scale. Individuals with higher resting vagal activity tend to be less willing to eat desired foods and are more likely to label certain foods as forbidden. Future studies should include measures of self-regulation and eating disorder symptomatology to identify potential mediators or moderators when attempting to replicate these preliminary findings in larger samples.

Keywords: Heart rate variability; Intuitive eating; Vagal activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Rest*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*
  • Young Adult