According to Csiro, the government research agency, Australians are likely to have one of five "diet personalities", based on a survey of more than 90,000 Australian adults.
The most common type, the "Thinker", comprises 37% of the population. Thinkers tend to over-analyse their progress and have unrealistic expectations. This can result in a sense of failure and derail a diet.
The "Craver", applicable to 26% of Australians, finds it difficult to resist temptation. Nearly one in six of all Cravers are obese.
The third group, the "Socialiser", represents about one sixth of the population. Food and alcohol play a big role in the Socialiser’s active social life, so flexibility is key to maintaining a healthy diet.
Representing 16% of Australians, the "Foodie" is most likely to be a normal weight. 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.
Finally, there’s the "Freewheeler", accounting for 4% of the population. These are spontaneous and impulsive eaters, and have the poorest quality diet. With a higher proportion of men in this group, Freewheelers avoid planning meals and over half are obese.
According to Csiro behavioural scientist Sinead Golley, knowing one’s diet personality could provide an explanation as to why past weight loss attempts have failed.
“One in five Cravers have tried to lose weight more than 25 times and 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 are often perfectionists, giving up when things get challenging.”
Dr Golley said she and her researchers found some interesting food personality trends across generations.
Baby boomers and those aged 71 years and over are more likely to be Socialisers and Foodies, suggesting lifestyle and social connections influence a person’s eating patterns at different stages of life.
Millennials and Gen Xers, meanwhile, are more likely to be Cravers, Thinkers and Freewheelers.
“We also found younger people commonly used fitness trackers and apps to lose weight, while older generations turned to diet books and support groups.”