Positive Outlook Boosts Likelihood of Healthier Lifestyle

SATURDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Personality and attitude seem to matter when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, with a brighter outlook on life leading to healthier choices, Australian researchers say.

In addition, those who believe they are in control of their destiny are more likely to eat a healthier diet, exercise more, and smoke and drink less, according to the researchers. The opposite is true for people who believe their destiny is in the hands of fate or that life is about luck, the investigators found.

In conducting the study, Deborah Cobb-Clark, director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, and colleagues used data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to examine the diet, exercise and personality type of more than 7,000 people.

"Our research shows a direct link between the type of personality a person has and a healthy lifestyle," Cobb-Clark said in a university news release.

The findings could help shape public health policies on certain conditions, such as obesity, the study authors suggested.

"The main policy response to the obesity epidemic has been the provision of better information, but information alone is insufficient to change people's eating habits," explained Cobb-Clark. "Understanding the psychological underpinning of a person's eating patterns and exercise habits is central to understanding obesity."

Men and women also appear to have different views on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Although men seek physical results, women are focused on the daily pleasure they get from living a healthy lifestyle, the results indicated.

"What works well for women may not work well for men," Cobb-Clark noted. "Gender-specific policy initiatives which respond to these objectives may be particularly helpful in promoting healthy lifestyles," she suggested.

The report was published recently by the University of Melbourne in the Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about personality.

SOURCE: University of Melbourne, news release, Sept. 14, 2012

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