Scientists claim people who believe in luck and fate are more likely to be obese.
Researchers found that those who place their hands in fate were less likely to change their lives by their own actions, leading to conditions including obesity.
Their outlook meant they exercised less, ate less healthily and smoked and drank more than those who believed their life was in their own hands.
A team from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research looked at the diet and exercise habits of more than 7,000 people and compared the results to their personality types.
Scientists claim people who believe in luck and fate are more likely to be obese
Professor Deborah Cobb-Clark said those who had a greater faith in luck or fate were more likely to live an unhealthy life, adding: “Our research shows a direct link between the type of personality a person has and a healthy lifestyle.”
She suggested that the findings could have implications for the obesity epidemic, with psychology playing a more important role.
Prof. Deborah Cobb-Clark said: “The main policy response to the obesity epidemic has been the provision of better information, but information alone is insufficient to change people’s eating habits.
“Understanding the psychological underpinning of a person’s eating patterns and exercise habits is central to understanding obesity.”
The research also found that men and women hold different views on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
While men wanted physical results from their healthy choices, women were more receptive to the everyday enjoyment of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Prof. Deborah Cobb-Clark said this implied policies to cut obesity may need to be tailored according to gender, adding: “What works well for women may not work well for men.
“Gender-specific initiatives may be particularly helpful in promoting healthy lifestyles.”
A new research has contradicted the idea that exercise is more important than diet in the fight against obesity.
A study of the Hadza tribe, who still exist as hunter gatherers, suggests the amount of calories we need is a fixed human characteristic.
This suggests Westerners are growing obese through over-eating rather than having inactive lifestyles, say scientists.
One in 10 people will be obese by 2015.
And, nearly one in three of the worldwide population is expected to be overweight, according to figures from the World Health Organization.
The Western lifestyle is thought to be largely to blame for the obesity “epidemic”.
Various factors are involved, including processed foods high in sugar and fat, large portion sizes, and a sedentary lifestyle where cars and machines do most of the daily physical work.
A study of the Hadza tribe, who still exist as hunter gatherers, suggests the amount of calories we need is a fixed human characteristic
The relative balance of overeating to lack of exercise is a matter of debate, however.
Some experts have proposed that our need for calories has dropped drastically since the industrial revolution, and this is a bigger risk factor for obesity than changes in diet.
The study, published in the PLoS ONE journal, tested the theory, by looking at energy expenditure in the Hadza tribe of Tanzania.
The Hadza people, who still live as hunter gatherers, were used as a model of the ancient human lifestyle.
Members of the 1,000-strong population hunt animals and forage for berries, roots and fruit on foot, using bows, small axes, and digging sticks. They don’t use modern tools or guns.
A team of scientists from the US, Tanzania and the UK, measured energy expenditure in 30 Hadza men and women aged between 18 and 75.
They found physical activity levels were much higher in the Hadza men and women, but when corrected for size and weight, their metabolic rate was no different to that of Westerners.
Dr. Herman Pontzer of the department of anthropology at Hunter College, New York, said everyone had assumed that hunter gatherers would burn hundreds more calories a day than adults in the US and Europe.
The data came as a surprise, he said, highlighting the complexity of energy expenditure.
But he stressed that physical exercise is nonetheless important for maintaining good health.
“This to me says that the big reason that Westerners are getting fat is because we eat too much – it’s not because we exercise too little,” said Dr. Herman Pontzer.
“Being active is really important to your health but it won’t keep you thin – we need to eat less to do that.
“Daily energy expenditure might be an evolved trait that has been shaped by evolution and is common among all people and not some simple reflection of our diverse lifestyles.”