Interoception, eating behaviour and body weight

Eric Robinson, Lucile Marty, Suzanne Higgs, Andrew Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Interoception refers to the process of identifying and listening to internal bodily signals, which may be a modifiable determinant of appetite regulation and weight gain. The objective was to examine whether the extent to which self-reported interoception is associated with higher BMI is explained by eating behavior traits.

Methods: UK adults (N = 1181, 49% female, 53% with overweight/obesity) completed validated self-report measures of interoception, habitual tendencies to eat in response to satiety signals (intuitive eating), emotional over-eating and other eating traits.

Results: Poorer self-reported ability to detect interoceptive signals (deficits in interoceptive accuracy) was predictive of higher BMI (r = - 0.07 (95% CI -0.13; -0.01), p < .05). In parallel mediation analyses, participants with poorer interoceptive accuracy were significantly less likely to report considering satiety signals when eating and this explained the cross-sectional association between interoceptive accuracy and higher BMI. There was also some evidence that participants with poorer interoceptive accuracy were more likely to report emotional overeating and this also in part explained why interoceptive accuracy was predictive of higher BMI.

Conclusions: Deficits in interoception may decrease the likelihood that satiety signals are integrated into eating behaviour related decision making and in doing so contribute to higher BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113434
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Early online date24 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ER has previously received funding from Unilever and the American Beverage Association for unrelated research. No other authors report potential conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Adult eating behaviour
  • BMI
  • Interoception
  • Intuitive eating
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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