Personality traits and body mass index in a Korean population

Unjin Shim, Han Na Kim, Seung Ju Roh, Nam H. Cho, Chol Shin, Seungho Ryu, Yeon Ah Sung, Hyung Lae Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Overweight and obesity is a serious problem worldwide related to cardiovascular and other diseases. Personality traits are associated with the abnormal body mass indices (BMIs) indicative of overweight and obesity. However, the links between personality traits and BMI have been little studied in Korea. Methods: We evaluated the association between personality traits and BMI in men and women using the rural Ansung and urban Ansan cohort from the Korean Genome Epidemiology Study, and the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital Cohort Study datasets. A shorter version of the original Revised Neuroticism-Extroversion- Openness Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) was used to measure the five-factor model of personality (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness). Results: Data from a total of 1,495 men (mean age 60.0±9.8 years; mean BMI 24.3±3.0 kg/m2) and 2,547 women (mean age 47.0±15.5 years; mean BMI 22.8±3.4 kg/m 2) were included in the analysis. Compared with the normal weight groups, overweight and obese men scored higher on openness to experience and lower on conscientiousness. Overweight and obese women scored lower on neuroticism and openness to experience and higher on agreeableness. Extraversion was positively associated with BMI in men (β = 0.032, P<0.05). BMI and waist circumference were significantly increased in individuals who were less dutiful. In women, neuroticism was inversely associated with BMI (β = -0.026, P<0.05). Openness to experience was negatively, and agreeableness was positively, associated with BMI (openness to experience: β = -0.072, agreeableness β = 0.068) and waist circumference (openness to experience: β = -0.202, agreeableness: β = 0.227) (P<0.05). Conclusion: Personality traits were associated with underweight, overweight, and obesity in men and women. Increased understanding of the underlying factors contributing to this association will aid in the prevention and treatment of abnormal BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere90516
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 5 Mar 2014


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