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Personalty traits may be key to weight

File photo. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/afbbde1538acaebac3427f551a090b0b/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
File photo. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- People with high neuroticism and low conscientiousness personality traits are likely to go through cycles of gaining and losing weight, U.S. researchers found.

Angelina R. Sutin of the National Institute on Aging said impulsivity was the strongest predictor of being overweight -- study participants who scored in the top 10 percent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 pounds more than those in the bottom 10 percent.

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"Individuals with this constellation of traits tend to give in to temptation and lack the discipline to stay on track amid difficulties or frustration," the researchers said in a statement.

Sutin and colleagues analyzed data from a longitudinal study of 1,988 people to determine how personality traits are associated with weight and body mass index in a 50-year period.

All were assessed on what is known as the "big five" personality traits -- openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism -- as well as 30 subcategories of these personality traits.

Although weight tends to increase gradually as people age, the study found greater weight gain among impulsive people, those who enjoy taking risks and those who are antagonistic, especially the cynical, competitive and aggressive.

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"Previous research has found that impulsive individuals are prone to binge eating and alcohol consumption," Sutin adds. "These behavioral patterns may contribute to weight gain over time."

The findings are published in the American Psychological Association.

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