Promoting healthy eating among college women: Effectiveness of an intuitive eating intervention
This is the first experimental study to test the effectiveness of an intuitive eating intervention designed to increase adaptive eating practices and reduce eating disorder risk factors. Participants were 72 non-clinical, female college students from a large Midwestern university who were randomly assigned to either the experimental intervention or the control group (survey completion only). Participants were assessed prior to the intervention, post-intervention, and again at 1-week and 2-week follow-up periods on intuitive eating practices, dieting, body image effects, and disordered eating attitudes. Eating self-efficacy and emotional awareness were also examined as potential moderators of the intuitive eating intervention. Survey data was analyzed using a mixed ANOVA model to test the intervention and moderation effects across time. As hypothesized, after the intervention, the experimental group demonstrated significantly greater adherence to intuitive eating practices and significantly less dieting attitudes and practices relative to the control group. However, the groups did not significantly differ on the body image effects and disordered eating attitudes outcomes. In addition, emotional awareness was supported as a significant moderator of the intuitive eating, dieting, and disordered eating attitudes outcomes. Although different than the hypothesized effects, these results imply that participants with higher and lower emotional awareness both showed benefits from the intuitive eating intervention. Similarly, eating self-efficacy was supported as a significant moderator of the intuitive eating and body image effects variables, even after controlling for general self-efficacy. Overall these results present empirical evidence that the intuitive eating model can be a promising approach to disordered eating prevention in a variety of service delivery modalities.