Personality, attrition and weight loss in treatment seeking women with obesity

Clin Obes. 2015 Oct;5(5):266-72. doi: 10.1111/cob.12112. Epub 2015 Aug 10.


Studies on small samples or in single units applying specific treatment programmes found an association between some personality traits and attrition and weight loss in individuals treated for obesity. We aimed to investigate whether pre-treatment personality traits were associated with weight loss outcomes in the general population of women with obesity. Attrition and weight loss outcomes after 12 months were measured in 634 women with obesity (mean age, 48; body mass index (BMI), 37.8 kg m(-2)) seeking treatment at eight Italian medical centres, applying different medical/cognitive behavioural programmes. Personality traits were assessed with the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), eating disorder features with the Binge Eating Scale (BES) and Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ). Within the 12-month observation period, 32.3% of cases were lost to follow-up. After adjustment for demographic confounders and the severity of eating disorders, no TCI personality traits were significantly associated with attrition, while low scores of the novelty seeking temperament scale remained significantly associated with weight loss ≥ 10% (odds ratio, 0.983; 95% confidence interval, 0.975-0.992). Additional adjustment for education and job did not change the results. We conclude that personality does not systematically influence attrition in women with obesity enrolled into weight loss programmes in the community, whereas an association is maintained between novelty seeking and weight loss outcome. Studies adapting obesity interventions on the basis of individual novelty seeking scores might be warranted to maximize the results on body weight.

Keywords: Attrition; obesity; personality; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lost to Follow-Up
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Dropouts*
  • Personality*
  • Temperament
  • Weight Loss*