Does Your Personality Bring On Weight Gain?Weight Gain Personalities« click for printable PDF version

Recent research by the National Institutes of Health recently reported that people with impulsive personalities weighed an average of 22 pounds more than others.

What does this mean for you? Read on and find out.

Until now, experts have been blaming external factors - societal norms, traditions, eating habits and a lack of exercise - for a continuing weight gain that now has two-thirds of Americans overweight.

Of course, our lifestyles are too easy. We drive everywhere and walk nowhere; we watch lots of sports but do none; we eat fast food and take no time to cook healthy. The list goes and on and on, and as a result it's super-easy to be fat.

Until this study, everything has pointed to our lack of willpower to overcome the norms around us. But now, these researchers report that after studying years of data from 1,988 people, they are finding links between who we are (our personality) and our weight.

The study results were published in the July 2011 issue of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a very respectable and scientific publication.

What they found is this: The top-scorers in the impulsive category carried an average of 22 pounds more extra weight than the others.

Apparently, all those last-minute snacks downed by those with impulsive personalities add on the pounds over the years.

On the contrary, those super-disciplined, not-so-impulsive (some might say boring) people end up avoiding at least an average of 22 pounds versus their more impulsive peers.

"Those who are more conscientious tend to eat and exercise on a more regular schedule and are less likely to binge eat or drink; all things that contribute to a more stable weight," said study author and psychologist Dr. Angelina Sutin at the National Institute on Aging.

No surprise there.

The study results also show that our very competitive and antagonistic friends also tended to gain more weight over time - probably due to the higher stress levels they live with (see my other article on why stress is worse than chocolate for weight gain).

The good news in the study is that shifts in personality traits parallel weight gains.

This means that as we shift to be less impulsive (but still fun) or less antagonistic (and maybe nicer), then we are likely to also avoid some of the weight gain that some of our more last-minute or nasty friends experience.

All of this "new" research supports, what my colleagues and I have known all along - that any weight loss program needs to include some level of mind therapy for long-term success. If we lose the weight and then find ourselves just being impulsive or super-stressed again, the weight will come right back on.

Lastly, and just so you think this study doesn't apply to you - it was split 50/50 between men and women, including 71 percent Caucasians, 22 percent African-American and 7 percent other ethnicities. The study also covered over 30 categories of personality traits and included 14,531 assessments across the 50 years of the study.

So plan your day to be just a bit less impulsive - and above all be nice!

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   - - Yours in health,   The Doctors of WeightWorks

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