Parent-Reported Personality and Weight Transitions across Adolescence

Type Article

Journal Article


A. R. Sutin; Y. Stephan; A. Terracciano

Year of publication



Child Obes








Background: Adolescence is a critical transition point for body weight. Personality traits are associated consistently with weight and obesity risk in adulthood. We examined whether personality, particularly Conscientiousness (the tendency to be organized, disciplined, and responsible), is associated with weight outcomes between ages 13 and 17. Methods: Data are drawn from the Growing Up in Ireland suites of studies. Parents rated their child's personality at age 13, and trained staff measured weight and height at ages 13 and 17 (N = 4962). Logistic regression was used to predict risk of incident obesity and obesity remission between ages 13 and 17. Results: Among children who were not in the obesity category at age 13, higher Conscientiousness was associated with lower risk of moving into the obesity category by age 17, and, among children with obesity at age 13, Conscientiousness was associated with greater likelihood of moving to the nonobesity category by age 17. These associations were independent of sociodemographic characteristics, parent body mass index, and were similar across gender. The other five-factor model personality traits were unrelated to weight outcomes. Conclusions: Conscientiousness is one trait psychological factor implicated in weight transitions across a critical period during adolescence.