Personality Influences and their Impact on Obesity
— By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.
Personality traits are associated with a range of health outcomes, including obesity.
While many groups share similar interests and common characteristics, every individual has their own unique personality. Personality reflects how people think, feel, and behave based on their interests, culture, values, abilities, emotions and more. Not surprisingly, different personality traits are associated with a range of health outcomes, including obesity.
Personality Traits Linked to Obesity
Patients who rank high in neuroticism or extraversion or low in conscientiousness have a greater likelihood of obesity as measured by BMI, body fat, waist circumference and hip circumference. Similarly, impulsivity is a predictor of obesity.1 There also are clear links between obesity and personality disorders, particularly for women, and these findings are consistent across adults and adolescents
Personality types also influence patients’ success in losing weight and maintaining weight loss. Interestingly, both “needy” patients as well as those who identify themselves as outgoing, sociable and friendly all had success with weight reduction, though the latter group showed more improvement from weight loss programs.2 Conversely, patients with personality disorders have low success rates with weight loss programs.
These studies also show that some these traits lead towards increased obesity throughout adulthood, while others lead to rises and falls in weight gain and loss during different periods. Although the terminology and measures used throughout these studies vary, the link between personality and obesity is clear and consistent. Given that personality reflects both innate and environmental factors that influence behaviors and actions, these are reasonable and expected outcomes.
Very Low Calorie Diets can help with Cognitive Issues Associated with Personality
All of this reinforces the importance of an individualized approach that targets specific weight loss and maintenance strategies that are specific to each patient. A Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) offers a wide range of benefits to address the different factors that motivate patients: rapid weight loss for health benefits; convenience; a team approach for encouragement and motivation; and electronic tools for tracking and personalization, among others. This personalized “whole person” approach engages patients and empowers them to prioritize lifestyle changes that will benefit their overall wellness, including their mental health.
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.