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Personality and Obesity Across the Adult Life Span

Title: Personality and Obesity Across the Adult Life Span.
Name(s): Sutin, Angelina, author
Ferrucci, Luigi, author
Zonderman, Alan, author
Terracciano, Antonio, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: serial
Date Issued: 2011
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Personality traits contribute to health outcomes, in part through their association with major controllable risk factors, such as obesity. Body weight, in turn, reflects our behaviors and lifestyle and contributes to the way we perceive ourselves and others. In this study, the authors use data from a large (N = 1,988) longitudinal study that spanned more than 50 years to examine how personality traits are associated with multiple measures of adiposity and with fluctuations in body mass index (BMI). Using 14,531 anthropometric assessments, the authors modeled the trajectory of BMI across adulthood and tested whether personality predicted its rate of change. Measured concurrently, participants higher on Neuroticism or Extraversion or lower on Conscientiousness had higher BMI; these associations replicated across body fat, waist, and hip circumference. The strongest association was found for the impulsivity facet: Participants who scored in the top 10% of impulsivity weighed, on average, 11Kg more than those in the bottom 10%. Longitudinally, high Neuroticism and low Conscientiousness, and the facets of these traits related to difficulty with impulse control, were associated with weight fluctuations, measured as the variability in weight over time. Finally, low Agreeableness and impulsivity-related traits predicted a greater increase in BMI across the adult life span. BMI was mostly unrelated to change in personality traits. Personality traits are defined by cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns that likely contribute to unhealthy weight and difficulties with weight management. Such associations may elucidate the role of personality traits in disease progression and may help to design more effective interventions.
Identifier: FSU_migr_mhs-0016 (IID), 10.1037/a0024286 (DOI)
Keywords: age distribution, body mass index, BMI, weight, conscience, extraversion, impulsive behavior, neurotic disorders, obesity, personality, sex distribution
Uncontrolled subjects: Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Body Mass Index, Body Weight, Conscience, Extraversion (Psychology), Female, Humans, Impulsive Behavior, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Neurotic Disorders, Obesity, Personality, Sex Distribution, Young Adult
Note: Published in final edited form as: J'>">J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 September; 101(3): 579–592. doi: 10.1037/a0024286'>">10.1037/a0024286
Citation: Sutin, AR, Ferrucci, L, Zonderman, AB, Terracciano, A. (2011). Personality and obesity across the adult life span. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 101(3): 579-592
Subject(s): Human behavior
Medical sciences
Mental health
Social psychiatry
Metabolism -- Disorders
Social aspects
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part of Series: Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine Faculty Publications.
Is Part Of: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Issue: 3, 101

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Sutin, A., Ferrucci, L., Zonderman, A., & Terracciano, A. (2011). Personality and Obesity Across the Adult Life Span. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology. Retrieved from