The Satter Eating Competence Model

Eating Competence as defined by the Satter Eating Competence Model (ecSatter) is being positive, comfortable and flexible with eating as well as matter-of-fact and reliable about getting enough to eat of enjoyable and nourishing food. ecSatter is competency-based, in that it is predicated on the utility and effectiveness of fundamental biopsychosocial processes: hunger and the drive to survive, appetite and the need for pleasure, the social reward of sharing food, and the biological propensity to maintain preferred and stable body weight. In order to achieve and maintain eating competence, rather than emphasizing the what and how much to eat and what to weigh of conventional nutritional practice, ecSatter supports positive eating attitudes and behaviors by emphasizing structured opportunities to eat, and, within that structure, eating preferred food in satisfying amounts.1 With respect to nutritional quality of the diet, ecSatter emphasizes cultivating a sense of self-direction with respect to choosing what to eat and a sense of agency with respect to exploring unfamiliar food and learning to eat it. These positive inclinations allow  people to learn and grow with respect to dietary variety and food management as they sequentially build on their own increasing capability to satisfy basic needs.2 ecSatter is measured by the validated Satter Eating Competence Inventory (ecSI)3 and the Satter Eating Competence Inventory for Low Income (ecSI/LI).4 Congruence between ecSI and ecSI/LI allows standard use of the ecSI/LI items, which will be referenced as ecSI 2.0. (Ref in print.) In spite of the fact that ecSatter says nothing about what or how much to eat or how much to weigh,5 EC adults do better nutritionally,3,6,7 have lower body mass index, (BMI),3,7 have higher HDLs, lower blood pressures and LDLs,7,8 and lower blood glucose.7 Remarkably, they are also healthier emotionally and socially. People with high Eating Competence feel more effective, are more self-aware, and are more trusting and comfortable with themselves and with other people.3 They are also more active.9

To keep up with the ecSatter evidence as it emerges, see Evidence-base of Satter Eating Competence Model.




1.         Satter EM. Eating Competence: definition and evidence for the Satter Eating Competence Model. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39 (suppl):S142-S153.

2.         Satter EM. Hierarchy of food needs. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39 (suppl):S187-188.

3.         Lohse B, Satter E, Horacek T, Gebreselassie T, Oakland MJ. Measuring Eating Competence: psychometric properties and validity of the ecSatter Inventory. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39 (suppl):S154-S166.

4.         Krall JS, Lohse B. Validation of a measure of the Satter eating competence model with low-income females. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Apr 7 2011;8(1):26.

5.         Sherry B, McDivitt J, Birch L, et al. Attitudes, practices, and concerns about child feeding and child weight status among socioeconomically diverse white, Hispanic, and African-American mothers. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004;104:215-221.

6.         Lohse B, Bailey RL, Krall JS, Wall DE, Mitchell DC. Diet quality is related to eating competence in cross-sectional sample of low-income females surveyed in Pennsylvania. Appetite. Nov 25 2011;58(2):645-650.

7.         Lohse B, Psota T, Estruch R, et al. Eating competence of elderly Spanish adults is associated with a healthy diet and a favorable cardiovascular disease risk profile. J Nutr. Jul 2010;140(7):1322-1327.

8.         Psota T, Lohse B, West S. Associations between eating competence and cardiovascular disease biomarkers. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39 (suppl):S171-S178.

9.         Lohse BL, Arnold K, Wamboldt P. Evaluation of About Being Active, an online lesson about physical activity shows that perception of being physically active is higher in eating competent low-income women. Women's Health. 2013 13:12-.