What is the effect of optimism on diet quality?

effect of optimism on diet

A recent study has found that optimism impacts on diet quality, specifically associated with healthier eating patterns, and social eating patterns.

Dispositional optimism is a type of positive trait when people expect that good things, rather than bad things, will happen to them in the future. Optimism is positively associated with many aspects of life. Those with high levels of dispositional optimism have better physical health, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, lower mortality, and healthy aging. In addition, they tend to smoke less and do more exercise.

In a recent study, researchers determined the influence of optimism on overall diet quality, food group intake, and snacking behavior. The results were published in the Nutrition Journal.

Researchers analyzed data from almost 33,000 participants. All of them completed 24-hours dietary diary at the beginning of the study and every six months after. They were asked about all the foods and beverages that they consumed at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacking in between. Participants also provided information about socio-demographic, lifestyle, and depressive symptoms characteristics.

People with positive thinking were found to have a healthier diet. They had a higher intake of lipids, and lower intake of proteins and carbohydrates. They ate more fruits and vegetables, seafood, whole grains, fats, dairy and meat substitutes, legumes, and non-salted oleaginous fruits. Consumption of meat and poultry, dairy products, milk-based desserts, and sugar and confectionery were negatively associated with dispositional optimism. In addition, optimists snacked infrequently and in smaller amounts. On the contrary, dispositional optimism was associated with higher alcohol intake and appetizers.

According to the researchers, the results “suggest that optimists tend to have a healthier diet overall but with larger intakes of food and beverages typically consumed at social eating occasions.” The researchers suggest that further study is necessary to confirm these findings, however, they do suggest that “programs targeting optimism may provide effective strategies for helping influencing dietary behaviors toward better food choices.”

Written by Anna Otvodenko

Reference: Ait-hadad, W., Bénard, M., Shankland, R., Kesse-Guyot, E., Robert, M., Touvier, M., Hercberg, S., Buscail, C. and Péneau, S. (2020). Optimism is associated with diet quality, food group consumption and snacking behavior in a general population. Nutrition Journal, 19(1).

Image by Werner Heiber from Pixabay

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