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6 February 2017 News Release

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

They found there are five behavioural "Diet Types" with the over-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.

The ‘Thinker’ diet type was the leading type among 41 per cent of adults. People who identify with the Thinker diet type are goal-oriented and analytical.

Yet these same qualities can be counterproductive to achieving diet goals when the Thinker tends to over-analyse every decision, set unrealistic expectations and give themselves little margin for error. This type is more prone to self-doubt, anxiety and stress, which can lead to over-eating and low success.

The research found Australians are motivated to lose weight with nine out of 10 of the surveyed adults attempting to lose weight in their lifetime. About 50 per cent have made more than six attempts while almost 20 per cent has tried more than 25 times.

Even with this strong motivation and persistence to lose weight, obesity rates remain high.

The Diet Types program 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 per cent - Overthinking and worrying about failure leads to stress which can derail diet progress
  • The Craver – 25 per cent - Craves delicious food and finds it hard to stop, leading to overeating in tempting situations
  • The Foodie – 15 per cent - Loves making, eating and experiencing food
  • The Socialiser – 15 per cent - Flexibility is essential – you won't let strict food restrictions stifle your social life
  • The Freewheeler - 4 per cent - 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 data revealed interesting results for the other four diet types. The second most common 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.

When it came to differences between the generations, 'The Craver' group had a high proportion of young adults. Older people scored high for 'The Socialiser' type.

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

More than 28,000 completed the Diet Type assessment in the first two days after it launched. By early February more than 55,000 people have completed the assessment.

"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 program is to connect people with a more personalised eating plan to deliver more sustainable, longer lasting changes in healthy eating habits."

If you’d like to learn more or complete the diet type assessment for free please visit Total Wellbeing Diet.

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