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New CSIRO study reveals behaviours and emotions impacting weight loss

New CSIRO study reveals behaviours and emotions impacting weight loss
August 23, 2021

In an update to their 2017 Diet Types study, researchers from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, studied over 245,000 people to understand the unique behavioural and emotional characteristics that might be helping or hindering their weight loss efforts during COVID in 2021.

The recent study identified 325 possible Diet Type personality combinations, including two new hybrid personalities, the “Battler” and the “Pleaser”, representing around 20% of all dieters.

Dr Emily Brindal, Research Scientist and lead author of the study, encouraged Australians to embrace the strengths and weaknesses associated with their Diet Type.

“We are seeing people cope differently with COVID-19 stresses and uncertainty, which has included disruptions to health, fitness, and social routines. We hope to help people achieve greater success on their journey to rediscover their health by playing to their individual strengths while also helping them to gain better control over their weaknesses.”

The six most common diet types identified in the research, which represented over half the study sample, include:

  • The Thinker (14.1%) – goal-oriented, motivated and analytical, however sensitive to negative feedback that can lead to stress or anxiety which could ultimately derail their diet. 
  • The Battler (12.8%) – likely to experience regular food temptation as well as being prone to stress and worry. ‘Battlers’ require some unique strategies to help them break the cycle and achieve long-term success in their diet journey. Nine in 10 Battlers are female. 
  • The Craver (7.3%) – likely to experience strong food cravings that may lead to overeating in ‘tricky’ food-related settings. Cravers had the highest Body Mass Index of all types. 
  • The Pleaser (7.1%) – likeable and friendly but can also be sensitive to social comparisons which can make them feel like they are not doing well.  They are likely to have many people to call upon to support them along the way.  
  • The Foodie (5.9%) – passionate about all things food including the experience of preparing and eating good quality meals. Foodies love variety and have the best diet quality of all Types. Men often identify as Foodies.
  • The Socialiser (4.8%) – a people-person who needs flexibility to make sure strict food restrictions don’t stifle social occasions or ‘kill the mood’ of an event.  

In addition to looking at the prevalence of personalities overall, the study also sought to understand how the different Diet Types approached weight loss when participating in the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet.   

Of the six dominant Diet Types, the research found that Cravers had the most weight to lose when they signed up for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Program.  Foodies were the most successful at losing weight and staying on the program, engaging with the program 50% more than Cravers and Battlers, who were least engaged.    

Retail assistant, Kayleen Nuus from South Australia, said understanding her Diet Type played a critical role in her 37 kg weight loss.  

Nuus  explains “as a Craver I would consume food without a second thought – if it looked or smelled delicious, I had to have it, no matter how unhealthy it was.

“Now I make decisions based on an understanding of how my mind works in certain situations. If I’m craving a particular food, I look for a healthier option. For example, rather than a take-away hamburger, I’ll make it at home, so I know exactly what’s going in it. I also generally track my food to understand my portions and satisfy my hunger, without the sacrifice.

“Understanding my Diet Type means I have more control over the psychological elements of my eating habits and can focus my energies on filling my body with nourishing foods, rather than empty kilojoules.”

CSIRO has used the findings from this research to develop a set of science-based strategies for CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Program members to support them in overcoming the challenges faced by each of the six revised Diet Types.

“Too often diets are developed with a one-size-fits all approach that ignores the fact that some people behave or think differently to others.

“Working with your Diet Type could help you achieve better weight loss outcomes in the longer term. 

“The new Diet Type enhancements use personality and behavioural science to speak uniquely to people identifying with different diet types so they can embark on a weight loss journey that better suits them.”   

All Australians can take the free CSIRO Diet Types quiz online by visiting the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet website and filling in a short quiz. Once complete, people will receive instant, personalised feedback about their Diet Type and the best strategies to achieve their desired outcomes.

Take the new CSIRO Diet Types quiz here 

Access the full report here 

Image: Credit: Tim Samuel from Pexels

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