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Weight Gain Increases Impulsiveness

New research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science suggests that people who gain weight are more likely to give in to temptations although they are more thoughtful about their actions.

Angelina Sutin, psychological scientist at the Florida State University College of Medicine, and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined data from two large-scale longitudinal studies to see how fluctuations in body weight may be related to personality trait changes.

The investigators based their analysis on two studies, NIH’s Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study, which included about 2,000 participants of all ages and socioeconomic levels. They collected data about the participants’ personality traits and their body weights two time points nearly a decade apart.

Researchers found that participants who gained at least a 10 percent body weight showed an increase in impulsiveness or greater tendency to give in to temptations compared to those who maintained their weights. However, these data did not reveal whether the increase in impulsiveness was a cause or an effect of gaining weight. Nevertheless, the researchers believe that they suggest a close relationship between a person’s physical and psychological functions.

The investigators were surprised to find out however, that people who gained weight also reported a greater tendency to think through their decisions, which was found to be almost double in participants who gained weight compared to those whose weight remained the same.

The authors speculate that this increased tendency to deliberate could be due to the negative feedback from family or friends, which makes them think twice about eating more if they feel that everyone is watching them.  These findings suggest that even though people who gain weight are more mindful in their decision-making, they may still have trouble resisting temptations.


Association for Psychological Science. Weight gain linked with personality trait changes. ScienceDaily.


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