Monday, 06 February 2017 12:16

‘Over-thinking’, stress may be part of the dieting dilemma: CSIRO

‘Over-thinking’, stress may be part of the dieting dilemma: CSIRO Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The CSIRO says its behavioural scientists have identified the dominant diet type among Australian adults, revealing why many people find it hard to maintain a healthy diet.

Research by the CSIRO over the past two months, following the launch of its new online Diet Type assessment programme, found that when it comes to diets, most Australians tend to “over-think, have too high expectations and are anxious about failure – all of which can derail the best intentions”.

And, according to the research, there are five behavioural "Diet Types" with the “ever-thinking, anxious perfectionist” the predominant type.

The CSIRO surveyed more than 28,000 Australian adults to identify the personality traits and behavioural patterns in relation to eating and weight loss and found that the 'Thinker' diet type was the leading type among 41% of adults, and that people who identify with this type are goal-oriented and analytical.

The research found Australians are motivated to lose weight with 9 out of 10 of the surveyed adults attempting to lose weight in their lifetime – with about 50% having made more than six attempts while almost 20% had tried more than 25 times.

But, the CSIRO says that even with this strong motivation and persistence to lose weight, obesity rates remain high, and that the Diet Types programme aims to address this gap by identifying a person's psychological characteristics which play a key role in improving diet success.

The most and least common of the five main diet personality types across the surveyed population were:

•    The Thinker (41%): Overthinking and worrying about failure leads to stress which can derail diet progress.

•    The Craver (25%): Craves delicious food and finds it hard to stop, leading to overeating in tempting situations.

•    The Foodie (15%): Loves making, eating and experiencing food.

•    The Socialiser (15%): Flexibility is essential – you won't let strict food restrictions stifle your social life.

•    The Freewheeler (4%): Makes spontaneous and impulsive food choices, finds planning meals hard.

"If you have struggled to maintain your diet after a few weeks, your personal diet type will shed light on what behaviours and habits are creating a barrier for you," CSIRO behavioural scientist Dr Sinead Golley said.

"Knowing your personal Diet Type helps you maintain a healthy eating plan because you are more aware and equipped to manage moments of weakness.

"Successful weight loss requires a different mindset, focused on long-term total wellbeing. If you identify as a Thinker, you can improve your eating habits by reflecting more on positive changes and rewarding progressive achievements towards your goal."

The CSIRO says the second most common diet type — "The Craver" — scored high for people who were obese, while people who identified with "The Foodie" type were more likely to be a normal weight.

“This suggests that Cravers may need particular strategies to help them cope with strong desires for food,” Dr Golley said.

According to the research, when it came to differences between the generations, "The Craver" group had a high proportion of young adults, and older people scored high for "The Socialiser" type.

The CSIRO says it launched its new online Diet Type assessment to help Australians better understand their personal diet type to successfully maintain a diet. Participants filled in a short survey to receive instant, personalised feedback about the participant's diet type profile and the right strategies to manage it.

"The large number of participants using the Diet Type assessment demonstrates Australians are highly motivated to understand their personal diet type and what drives their eating habits," CSIRO research director and co-author of the Total Wellbeing Diet, Professor Manny Noakes, said.

"Our goal with the diet type programme is to connect people with a more personalised eating plan to deliver more sustainable, longer lasting changes in healthy eating habits."

To learn more or to complete the CSIRO’s diet type assessment for free, click here.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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