Results from a longitudinal study show that children who exhibit lower conscientiousness (e.g., irresponsible, careless, not persevering) could experience worse overall health, including greater obesity, as adults.
The Oregon Research Institute (ORI) study examines the relationship between childhood personality and adult health and shows a strong association between childhood conscientiousness (organized, dependable, self-disciplined) and health status in adulthood. ORI scientist Sarah Hampson, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health, Hawaii report these findings in the August issue of Health Psychology. Hampson was recently the discussant for a panel on personality and health at the national American Psychological Association meeting in Honolulu, HI.
“These results are significant and unique because they show the far-reaching effects of childhood conscientiousness on adult health. Others have shown that more conscientiousness children live longer. Now we have shown that these conscientious children are also healthier at midlife” noted Dr. Hampson.
So, there are systematic differences in personality between the obese and the non-obese. Whether these factors can explain the obesity epidemic is another question.