Intuitive eating is positively associated with indicators of physical and mental health among rural Australian adults

Nina Van Dyke, Eric J. Drinkwater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Introduction

Rural Australians have comparatively higher rates of overweight and obesity, as well as some mental health issues. Intuitive eating has been shown to be positively associated with an array of physical and mental health indicators. Few studies, however, have been conducted with general populations, and none has explicitly examined intuitive eating among rural residents.

Objective

To investigate the prevalence of intuitive eating, and associations between intuitive eating and indicators of physical and mental health, among a general population of rural adults.

Design

Cross-sectional telephone survey of 200 randomly selected, non-metropolitan, English-speaking Australian residents aged 18 or older.

Findings

The prevalence of intuitive eating in the sample was 17.6%, with a higher level of intuitive eating among men than women (26.1% vs 9.1%). Bivariate associations between intuitive eating and each of the six health indicators were all positive and mostly statistically significant. Particularly strong was the correlation between intuitive eating and self-esteem for women (r = 0.53). After controlling for indication of an eating disorder and demographics, the associations between intuitive eating and the outcome variables held for body mass index (BMI), psychological distress and body esteem for men, and for BMI and self-esteem for women. Post hoc analyses found that BMI did not moderate the relationship for women between intuitive eating and self-esteem and that body esteem mediates the relationships between intuitive eating and BMI and psychological distress for men, and between intuitive eating and self-esteem for women.

Discussion

Consistent with most prior research, this study finds that intuitive eating is positively associated with several indicators of both physical and mental health among non-metropolitan residents in Australia. Practice of intuitive eating in this population, however, is low. These findings may help allied health professionals guide rural populations to better health, and may be a particularly effective approach for people for whom the barriers to seeking out health services are high.

Conclusion

Intuitive eating appears to have substantial correlations with mental health indicators, and to some extent, physical health indicators, among rural Australians and therefore should be further investigated for its potential to inform public health policy targeted to similar populations.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 03 Mar 2022

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Intuitive eating is positively associated with indicators of physical and mental health among rural Australian adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this