Longitudinal associations between intuitive eating and weight-related behaviors in a population-based sample of young adults

Appetite. 2021 May 1;160:105093. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105093. Epub 2021 Jan 9.

Abstract

Intuitive eating has been associated with markers of better health in cross-sectional studies, but less is known about long-term associations between intuitive eating and subsequent eating and weight-related behaviors. This study assessed how intuitive eating in early adulthood is related to weight status, dieting, healthy and unhealthy weight control behaviors, and binge eating with loss of control five years later. Young adults (N = 1660) were asked about intuitive eating as part of the 2008-2009 third wave of the Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) longitudinal cohort study. Weight status, dieting, healthy and unhealthy weight control behaviors, and binge eating with loss of control were assessed during both the third (EAT-III: mean age 25.3 ± 1.5) and fourth (EAT-IV mean age 31.1 ± 1.5) waves. In analyses adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, both male and female intuitive eaters had a lower prevalence of high weight status and lower engagement in dieting, unhealthy weight control behaviors, and binge eating at the 5-year follow-up, compared to non-intuitive eaters. Among women, after additional adjustment for EAT-III values for the respective outcome measures, intuitive eating was unrelated to any of the behaviors studied at 5-year follow-up. Among men, intuitive eating predicted a lower likelihood of engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors (intuitive eaters: 30.0% vs. non-intuitive: 41.9%, p = 0.002) and binge eating (intuitive eaters: 0.9% vs. non-intuitive: 1.5%, p = 0.046) independent of participating in these behaviors at EAT-III. In a population-based sample of young adults, intuitive eating was associated with better markers of eating and weight-related behaviors five years later, suggesting intuitive eating may have potential long-term benefits.

Keywords: BMI; Binge eating; Intuitive eating; Longitudinal; Weight control; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Young Adult