Interoception and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the relationship between interoception and BMI

Eric Robinson, Georgia Foote, Jemma Smith, Suzanne Higgs, Andrew Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

200 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Interoception refers to the processes by which we sense, interpret and integrate signals originating from within the body. Deficits in interoception have been linked to higher BMI and may contribute to weight gain. However, there have been conflicting findings and it is not clear how higher BMI is associated with different facets of interoception, such as interoceptive accuracy (the ability to detect internal signals) and sensibility (the tendency to attend to internal signals).

METHODS: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that measured interoception and BMI. We examined relationships between interoception and BMI in children and adults separately and as a function of interoceptive facet and measure. In sensitivity analyses, we tested for evidence of publication bias and whether the results were consistent when studies with a high risk of bias were excluded.

RESULTS: A total of 87 articles were eligible for inclusion. In adults (121 effects, 10,425 participants), there was cross-sectional evidence of higher BMI being associated with overall deficits in interoception (r = -0.054, 95% CI: -0.084 to -0.025) and this was consistent across sensitivity analyses. There was no statistically significant evidence of moderation by interoceptive facet or measure, although there was some variability in effect size estimates based on interoceptive facet and measures. A smaller meta-analysis limited to studies that compared participants with normal weight vs. overweight/obesity indicated poorer interoception in participants with overweight/obesity (SMD = -0.39, 95% CI -0.60 to -0.18).

CONCLUSIONS: In cross-sectional studies, deficits in interoception are associated with higher BMI. However, it remains unclear whether deficits in interoception contribute to or are a consequence of weight gain and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2515-2526
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number12
Early online date3 Sept 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Sept 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Interoception and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the relationship between interoception and BMI'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this