New CSIRO study reveals behaviours and emotions impacting weight loss

In an update to their 2017 study of diet types, researchers from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, studied over 245,000 people to understand the unique behavioral and emotional traits that could aid or hinder their weight loss efforts during COVID in 2021.

The current study identified 325 possible diet-type personality combinations, including two new hybrid personalities, the “Battler” and the “Pleaser,” which make up about 20% of all dieters.

Dr. Emily Brindal, research scientist and lead author on the study, encouraged Australians to capitalize on the strengths and weaknesses of their diet.

“We see that people deal differently with COVID-19 stress and insecurity, which also include disorders of health, fitness and everyday social life. We hope to help people to be more successful on their way to rediscovering their health by playing out their individual strengths and at the same time helping them to get a better grip on their weaknesses. “

The six most common diets identified in the study that made up over half of the study sample include:

  • The Thinker (14.1%) – goal-oriented, motivated, and analytical but sensitive to negative feedback that can lead to stress or anxiety that can ultimately disrupt their diet.
  • The battler (12.8%) – likely experiences the temptation to eat regularly and is prone to stress and worry. Battlers require some unique strategies to help them break the cycle and achieve long-term success on their nutritional journey. Nine out of ten fighters are female.
  • The Craver (7.3%) – likely severe food cravings that can lead to overeating in “tricky” food situations. Cravers had the highest body mass index of any type.
  • The Pleaser (7.1%) – sympathetic and friendly, but can also be sensitive to social comparisons that can make them feel that they are not doing well. You probably have a lot of people who can support you on your way.
  • The Foodie (5.9%) – a passion for everything to do with food, including the experience of preparing and eating quality meals. Gourmets love variety and have the best nutritional quality of all kinds. Men often identify themselves as foodies.
  • The Socialiser (4.8%) – a people-person who needs flexibility to ensure that strict food restrictions don’t stifle social occasions or destroy the mood of an event.

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

Of the six dominant diet types, the study found that Cravers had the most weight to lose when they signed up for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program. Foodies were most successful at losing weight and maintaining the program and were 50% more committed to the program than cravers and battlers, who were the least engaged.

Retail assistant Kayleen Nuus from South Australia said understanding her diet type played a crucial role in her 37kg weight loss.

Nuus explains: “As a craver, I would consume food without hesitation – if it looked or smelled delicious, I had to have it, no matter how unhealthy it was.

“Now I make decisions based on understanding how my mind works in certain situations. When I have a craving for a specific food, I look for a healthier option. For example, instead of a hamburger to take away, I make it at home so I know exactly what’s inside. I also generally track my food to understand my portions and satisfy my hunger without sacrifice.

“Understanding my diet type means that I have more control over the psychological elements of my eating habits and can focus my energy on filling my body with nutritious foods rather than filling empty kilojoules.”

CSIRO has used the results of this research to develop a number of science-based strategies for members of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program to help them meet the challenges facing each of the six revised diets.

“Too often diets are developed with a unified approach that ignores the fact that some people behave or think differently from others.

“Working with your diet type could help you achieve better weight loss results in the longer term.

“The new Diet Type Enhancements use personality and behavioral research to target people who identify with different diet types in unique ways so they can embark on a weight loss journey that is better for them.”

All Australians can take the free CSIRO Diet Types Quiz online by visiting the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet website and completing a short quiz. Once this is complete, participants will receive instant, personalized feedback on their diet type and the best strategies to get the results they want.

Take the new CSIRO diet types quiz here

You can find the full report here

PICTURED: Credit: Tim Samuel of Pexels

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