Coping with the weight-centric model of health care: the role of interoception

Interoception (IC) is mostly self-awareness. IC is a little sense constantly monitoring how we feel inside. It can go awry, potentially distorting our body image. This paper considers different aspects of this sort of sixth sense and its role in a medical and social milieu dominated by the stigma for oversized bodies. IC appears to be related to “body consciousness”. Some preliminary data using the Heartbeat Perception Task (HPT) are added. The test was administered to three subsamples: sports practicing subjects (SP, or 17 sportsmen and 16 sportswomen aged 23,6±8.5 years); 10 overweight (OV, 25,029,9) males and 15 females (aged 44.8±3,3 years); 13 obese (OB, BMI>30,0) males and 12 females, aged 30.4±6,5. For HBT test significant differences emerged among sub-groups. SP and OV did not show gender differences, while high scores (0.85±0.11) and moderate scores (0.67±0.79) were obtained by SP and OV, respectively. In OB, significant gender differences and low scores (0.44±0.10) were found and the latter in 96% of the subjects, mostly males. SP show a better interoceptive capacity. To reprogram IC contemplative practices, yoga, thai chi, mindfulness training, and graded exercise therapy are suggested.