Like parent, like child? Intuitive eating among emerging adults and their parents

C. Blair Burnette, Vivienne M. Hazzard, Samantha L. Hahn, Nicole Larson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Intuitive eating (IE) emphasizes relying on hunger and satiety cues to guide eating, and is associated with positive mental health and health-promoting behaviors. Although parents' own eating patterns often shape those of their children, no known research has explored familial associations of IE. The purpose of this cross-sectional, population-based study was to examine IE concordance between emerging adults and their parents, and whether concordance differed across sociodemographic characteristics and weight perceptions. The analytic sample included 891 emerging adults (M age = 22.0) and their primary parent (M age = 50.4) who participated in the population-based, longitudinal EAT and F-EAT 2010–2018 studies. Parents and emerging adults were grouped into dyads based on IE concordance: (1) neither are intuitive eaters; (2) only the emerging adult is an intuitive eater; (3) only the parent is an intuitive eater; (4) both are intuitive eaters. Dyads differed across socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity, and weight perceptions. Concordant dyads who ate intuitively were more likely to be at higher SES and perceive their weight as “about right” than concordant dyads who did not eat intuitively. Asian emerging adults were most likely to belong to concordant non-intuitive eater dyads. Emerging adults who shared their parent's perception their weight was “overweight” were less likely to be intuitive eaters (even if their parents were). In this sample, sociodemographic characteristics and weight perceptions were related to IE concordance among emerging adults and their parents. Lower SES might be an intergenerational barrier to IE disproportionately impacting communities of color, though longitudinal data are needed. Results also suggest rather than motivating healthful eating, perceiving one's weight as “overweight” could hinder IE. Differences across sociodemographic variables likely intersect in meaningful ways, which is an important future research direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106132
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection for the study was supported by Grant Number R01HL127077 and R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). The authors' time to conduct and describe the analysis reported within this manuscript was supported by Grant Numbers R35HL139853 and T32HL150452 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer) and Grant Number T32MH082761 from the National Institute of Mental Health (PI: Carol Peterson). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Development
  • Eating behaviors
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Parent feeding


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