Intuitive Eating Sounds Great
Intuitive eating is a concept that sounds great. It has enthusiastic fans. And a new study published in Obesity finds that people who score high on a scale of intuitive eating were less likely to have excess weight or obesity. Géraldine Camilleri and her colleagues conclude:
Although no causality can be inferred from the reported associations, these data suggest that IE might be relevant for obesity prevention and treatment.
Intuitive eating, as measured in this study, has three dimensions:
- Eating for physical rather than emotional reasons
- Relying on hunger and satiety cues
- Unconditional permission to eat
You can find assessments of intuitive eating that are miles away from the very careful assessment of this new publication. Linda Bacon published a study in 2005 to support her view that IE and size acceptance leads to better health outcomes for people with obesity. Her publication is essential reading for believers in the Health at Every Size movement.
At the other extreme is a recent publication in Nutrition and Health. Based on a small controlled study, Anglin et al conclude that “CR (calorie restriction) is a superior approach to weight management compared to IE.”
Our own view is in line with the more measured approach of Camilleri et al. The concepts of intuitive eating are appealing. It’s not surprising that better skills for responding to physical hunger and satiety might lead to a healthier weight status and better health outcomes. But strong evidence from rigorous studies is lacking.
Fantastic claims are made for intuitive eating. Good studies should back them up.
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March 22, 2016