Teens who diet are at risk for a range of mental health problems as they grow older, such as depression. Some researchers suspect that encouraging people to practice intuitive eating, defined as consuming food based on feelings of hunger and fullness rather than following a restrictive diet, could lead to greater psychological wellbeing. Researchers with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH) recently took a closer look at this relationship and found that people who ate intuitively as teens were less likely to experience depression, disordered eating, and other related issues as adults.
The study, published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders, was co-authored by SPH professor Dr. Dianne Neumark-Stzainer and lead researcher Dr. Vivienne Hazzard from the Sanford Center for Biobehavioral Research. The research used data from Dr. Neumark-Sztainer’s long-running Project EAT, which is a study tracking the nutrition, activity and wellbeing of adolescents as they mature into adulthood.
“There is growing interest in the concept of intuitive eating with regard to what it looks like, who is doing it, and if it predicts better health-related behaviors and outcomes,” said Dr. Neumark-Sztainer. “In response, we added questions on intuitive eating to our Project EAT surveys to learn more.”
The study found: