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Pepperdine University Student to Present Research Findings at The International Conference on Eating Disorders



May 3, 2023 – Malibu, CA – Pepperdine University senior Summer (Mengyuan) Xia will present research findings at the International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED) hosted on June 1-3, 2023 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. Titled “Ethnic Identity, Body Appreciation, and Intuitive Eating in a National Sample of U.S. Adults,” Xia’s project explores how ethnic identity and one's appreciation of their own body impact their level of intuitive eating.

"As someone who experienced disordered eating, I understand how easy it is nowadays to fall into the rabbit hole of diet culture, especially for the younger generation,” said Xia. “During my freshman year, I discovered the principle of intuitive eating, and that began my journey to make amends with food.” 

Intuitive eating is a self-care eating framework that encourages people to rely on internal hunger and satiety cues regarding when, what, and how much to eat instead of following diet rules.

“Through intuitive eating, food became enjoyable again, and I found that building nutrition into my meals was no longer a taxing and anxiety-inducing process,” said Xia. “As an unexpected side effect, I found that I appreciate my body more, and I no longer aspire to the unrealistic body shapes portrayed by popular media.”

Xia’s personal journey inspired her to explore the relationship between intuitive eating and body appreciation for her senior capstone research project.

“Because of my background as an international student from China, I have always had a strong emotional connection with cultural foods,” said Xia. “That's why I also decided to explore how ethnic identity interacts with these two factors because I believe our eating behaviors are also influenced by our family and cultural backgrounds.”

Xia’s research mentors include Dr. Loan Kim, associate professor of Nutritional Science; Dr. Jennifer Harriger, associate professor of Psychology; and Dr. Khanh Bui, professor of Psychology.

“Our results demonstrate the positive relationship between body appreciation and intuitive eating, and these findings can inform future design of programs that support adults to eat intuitively,” said Kim. "It has been a joy to support Summer's work on this project, and it’s an honor for an undergraduate to present on an international stage such as the ICED.”


About Pepperdine University
Founded in 1937, Pepperdine University is an independent, Christian university located 30 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles in scenic Malibu, California. The University enrolls approximately 10,300 students across its flagship liberal arts school, Seaver College; the Caruso School of Law; the Graziadio Business School; the Graduate School of Education and Psychology; and the School of Public Policy. Pepperdine is committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. Follow Pepperdine on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


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