Impulsive people likelier to gain weight

Individuals who are impulsive in their behaviour could be more likely to gain weight as a consequence, new research has suggested. The study, published by the American Psychological Association, found that impulsivity is the strongest predictor of which people may become overweight.

Appearing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the investigation showed that those with personality traits such as low conscientiousness and high neuroticism are prone to experiencing cycles of both gaining and losing weight at different points in their lives.

The researchers - from the National Institute of Aging in the US, which was formed in 1974 following approval from Congress - noted: "Individuals with this constellation of traits tend to give into temptation and lack the discipline to stay on track amid difficulties or frustration."

They suggested highly-impulsive people may not have the necessary control when it comes to sustaining a healthy diet, as this requires commitment and restraint.

Professor Ben Fletcher from the University of Hertfordshire, a Chartered Psychologist and a Chartered Scientist, said: "The finding that impulsive personalities don't stick to diets is interesting, but I suggest an alternative view of why this might be. 

"The researchers imply it is because such people do not have much willpower. However, our own research suggests that it is developing behavioural flexibility - and not improving willpower - that is essential for weight management.

"Perhaps impulsive people are just less behaviourally flexible and therefore also more likely to be a victim of their bad habits."