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How Weight Gain Changes Your Personality

weight gain and personality

Photo credit: H. Neal

Earlier this month research was published showing how personality affects your ability to lose weight, but would you be surprised to hear that gaining weight can also lead to personality changes? It seems to all be connected in a slightly chicken-and-the-egg fashion. Since weight is often such an emotional issue, researchers wanted to see if a change in weight had an effect on personality (as opposed to personality causing a change in weight). They poured through data of almost 2,000 subjects, including their weight and personality characteristics over a span of almost ten years. Turns out, people that had a 10 percent weight gain also had a change in personality. What was it? They became more impulsive. I can certainly see the flip side — being impulsive could lead to weight gain, given the likelihood of diving into a plate of food without second thought. However, even though the weight gainers were more likely to give in to temptation, people who gained weight also tended to think more about their actions.

One hypothesis of the increased deliberation is negative feedback. The researchers surmised that negative input from friends and family regarding their weight or food choices might have made an impact on how they think. One of the researchers also suggested that repeatedly giving in to temptation may make it harder to exercise self control as time goes on. This means that as people gain weight they have more difficulty resisting temptations and continue to gain weight, thus perpetuating the cycle. I would think the longer the cycle of trying to resist certain foods goes on, the harder it is to stick with it.

As a non-researcher, average girl, I have trouble seeing which is causing which, but I think it’s fascinating that there’s even a possibility weight could affect personality and personality could affect weight. I’d be intrigued to hear about the opposite situation: Does your personality change when you lose weight too?

What do you think?

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