Multiple studies indicate impulsivity is linked to obesity.
The notion may surprise you in the slightest, but multiple sets of research support the theory that people with impulsive personalities may be more likely to struggle with addiction whether to drugs, alcohol, or even food, but are they also more likely to be obese? Impulsivity can create a less predictable lifestyle, a need for new things, or excitement for some, but is can also create the perfect setup for eating binges.
Research on Obesity and Impulsivity:
- A study performed at the University of Georgia and published in Appetite in 2013 looked at 233 subjects. They used the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) to assess food addiction activity and compared the results to the subject’s BMI. They found that people who were impulsive were more likely to develop compulsive eating patterns. They concluded that impulsivity, routinely associated with high-risk behaviors including addictive consumption of alcohol and drugs, maybe a significant risk factor for obesity. This tie is believed to be due to a tendency to engage in the addictive consumption of food and early monitoring of food addiction symptoms may help reduce the likelihood that compulsive food consumption patterns result in weight gain and obesity.
A second study published in 2014 looked at the subject of the Nurses Health Study and used the same YFAS tool to look at over 134,000 women. They found that 5.8% of the subject or over 7800 met the standard for food addiction. The food addition group has a higher BMI of greater than 35.0.
- Another piece of research was published in Obesity in 2017. Researchers at the Center for BrianHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas have discovered a link between having an impulsive personality and a high body mass index (BMI). Researchers recruited 45 individuals with an age range 22 to 43 and an average BMI of 30.7. They analyzed three measures to understand the impact of impulsivity on body weight. The measures included a self-report, neuropsychological testing and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Impulsive personality or the tendency to consistently react with little forethought appears to be the key factor that links brain patterns of impulsivity and a higher BMI.
- One Last research study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychiatry in 2011 looked at just under 2000 subjects and the tie to obesity to impulsive personalities. It revealed a relationship with impulsivity leading to a higher body weight of over 11 Kg.
The Bottomline: There is a tie between impulsive personalities and obesity. Addressing impulsive personality traits may be an essential part of developing an effective weight management program. Cognitive-behavioral healthy strategies for individuals to overcome such impulsive behaviors could be an important component of effective weight-loss programs.