Australian science organisation CSIRO – which has become the best-selling author of a range of diet books in recent years, especially the “Total Wellbeing Diet” series – has been looking at the eating habits of more than 90,000 Australians to see if they could find differing approaches to how we eat, and concluded there are five main diet-related personality types.
The organisation was trying to figure out what the major stumbling blocks were to a successful diet strategy, based on the personality type, keeping in mind that nearly two-thirds of the Australian population are overweight or obese, in a bid to understand why it was so hard to maintain a health diet.
CSIRO behavioural scientist Dr Sinead Golley said a person’s “diet type”, daily habits and lifestyle factors are the keys to understanding why so many attempts at dieting fail.
For example, a quarter of the popular are whats known as “Cravers”. It’s the second-most common personality type, which struggles to resist certain foods.
“One in five Cravers have tried to lose weight more than 25 times and they say that chocolate and confectionery are the biggest problem foods to resist,” Dr Golley said.
“On the other hand, people with the most common diet personality type – known as the ‘Thinker’ – tend to have high expectations and tend to be perfectionists, giving up when things get challenging.”
The five types, in descending order, are: the Thinker, Craver, Socialiser, Foodie and Freewheeler.
Dr Golley said baby boomers and people aged 71 years and over were more likely to be Socialisers and Foodies, while millennials and Gen X were more likely to be Cravers, Thinkers and Freewheelers, which suggests lifestyle and social connections influence eating patterns.
“We also found younger people commonly used fitness trackers and apps to lose weight, while older generations turned to diet books and support groups,” she said.
The CSIRO has built a five-minute online diet type survey to help people understand their own triggers when it comes to trying to lose weight.
“If you’re frustrated by unsuccessful weight loss attempts, having a better understanding of your personal triggers and diet patterns can be the crucial piece of the puzzle,” Dr Golley said.
Here’s a more detailed explanation of the five types of diet personalities the CSIRO found:
This is the most common diet type (37%). They’re predominantly women (86%), and tend to over-analyse their progress and have unrealistic expectations. This can result in a sense of failure and derail a diet.
More than a quarter (26%) of Australians are cravers, who find it hard to resist temptation. More than half of all cravers (58%) are obese.
Close to one if five (17%) people are socialisers, and food and alcohol play a big role in the socialiser’s active social life, so flexibility is key to maintaining a healthy diet.
Foodies (16%) are most likely to be a normal weight. They’re passionate about food, this type has the healthier diet with a high variety of vegetables in their diet. Alcohol makes up one-third of their discretionary food and beverage intake.
Spontaneous and impulsive eaters, Freewheelers have the poorest quality diet. With a higher proportion of men in this group, Freewheelers avoid planning meals and over half (55%) are obese. They make up just 4% of the total.
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