Optimistic women more likely to eat healthy
Women who are naturally more optimistic may be more likely to adopt healthy eating habits, according to a new study.
A research team from the University of Arizona in Tucson looked at data from roughly 30,000 women between ages 50 and 79. More than 13,500 women had been asked to improve their eating habits, while the rest of the women were not asked to make any changes in their diets. All of the women filled out a questionnaire about different aspects of their overall healthfulness, including diet and outlook on life, at the beginning of the study and then, one year later.
The researchers found that the women who were most optimistic improved their nutrition the most over the course of the study. The participants’ diet improvement was measured on a numbers scale, and researchers said the difference between the most versus the least optimistic women was “statistically meaningful.”
The study’s findings, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggest that optimism itself does not directly equate to a person’s ability to adhere to healthy habits; rather, optimism is a marker of other traits that optimists tend to have. Researchers cited examples such as self-regulation—conscious decision-making of a person’s behavior—and the ability to cope with stress and unpleasant emotions through healthy and productive means. By adopting such traits, the researchers concluded that both optimistic and pessimistic people can make positive changes to diet and overall health.