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Obes Rev. 2015 Jan;16(1):32-63. doi: 10.1111/obr.12235. Epub 2014 Dec 2.

Personality traits and obesity: a systematic review.

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Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, LWL University Hospital, Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany.


Based on a bio-social-ecological systems model of the development and maintenance of obesity, there has been in the last few years a growing research interest in the association of obesity and personality traits. The aim of the present review was a comprehensive and critical evaluation of the existing literature taking into account the methodological quality of studies to enhance our understanding of personality traits associated with body weight, the development of overweight and obesity as well as the effectiveness of weight loss interventions including bariatric surgery. Personality traits play an important role both as risk as well as protective factors in the development of overweight and obesity. While thus in particular 'neuroticism', 'impulsivity' and 'sensitivity to reward' appear as risk factors, 'conscientiousness' and 'self-control' have been shown to have a protective function in relation to weight gain. Conscientiousness is a measure of regulation of internal urges and self-discipline, and may thus provide a potential source of control over impulsive reward-oriented behaviour. The results of the present review suggest that, within the context of therapeutic weight reduction measures, it is meaningful to identify subgroups of patients for whom specific treatment options need to be developed, such as measures for strengthening self-control skills.


Obesity; overweight; personality; temperament

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