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Personality Traits Affect Weight Gain

Andrea Martinez |
September 18, 2013 | 12:06 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Don't change your entire personality, just adapt! (Tumblr/Rikkyfernandes)
Don't change your entire personality, just adapt! (Tumblr/Rikkyfernandes)
Having trouble buttoning up your favorite pair of pants lately? While you may be blaming the number on the scale on external factors, a recent study found that your weight gain may be attributed to your very own personality traits. 

According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), highly neurotic people (those who tend to be abnormally sensitive, obsessive, tense, or anxious) are at a higher risk of being overweight.

Contrastly, those who have high levels of conscientiousness (those who are self-disciplined, organized, and hard-working) tend to have lower body mass indexes (BMI's) and maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime. 

Researchers studied almost 2,000 people over a 50 year period.

They also found that people who are more impulsive, emotional, or thrill-seeking are more likely to indulge in late-night binge drinking, eating and smoking. As a result, these individuals have a harder time following strict diets and workout regimes, leading to higher BMI’s and obesity. 

The NIA said maintaining a healthy weight means having a healthy diet and a sustained program of physical activity, both of which require self control and discipline. 

If you find some of these neurotic or impulsive traits match your personality, don’t lose hope. While you might not be able to change who you are, you can still modify small behaviors that will stop you from overeating and will kill impulsive cravings. 

Weight loss counselor, psychotherapist and author of “The Anderson Method,William Anderson, said, “People can change! Addictive behaviors can be changed by developing techniques to get better at mastering impulsiveness.”

Anderson himself lost 140 pounds after 25 years of obesity and failed diets by using these techniques to change his behaviors.

Planning Ahead

According to Anderson, meal prepping is one of the many ways people can change their impulsive eating behaviors.

“Plan ahead instead of wandering through the day ready to spontaneously react,” he said. 

For example, when you walk by a vending machine, you’ll be less tempted to get the chocolate bar or the bag of cookies if you know you have a sandwich packed in your bag for lunch. 


In his book “The Anderson Method," Anderson said “self-talk” is another way he changed his and his clients' behaviors: “When an urge pops up, I talk to myself, out loud if I’m alone, or in my head if I’m with people. I’ll say 'Stop! that’s not in the plan. That would be overeating.  It would cause tight clothes and reflux that I hate. I don’t want that.'" 

"Covert Sensitization"

This technique associates junk food cravings with negative images such as tight clothes, fat pockets, and stretch marks. 

“Associating something negative or disgusting can kill the craving just enough to get by it and continue on your path to loose clothes and the next healthy meal you’ve planned on,” said Anderson. 

These small behavioral adaptions are tough at first, but the more you practice them, the more second-nature they will become. 

When they do, "your success is permanent,” said Anderson. 

Click here for more information on William Anderson and "The Anderson Methond"

Contact staff reporter Andrea Martinez here or follow her on Twitter here



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