Posted on May 15, 2014, 6 a.m.
Among women, optimism helps them to adopt and follow healthy dietary guidelines.
A positive outlook on life may make you a better candidate for healthy eating. Melanie Hingle, from the University of Arizona (Arizona, USA), and colleagues studied data collected as part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), focusing on two groups of women: a group of 13,645 participants who had been part of a program to improve their nutrition, mainly by decreasing fat intake; and 20,242 subjects who were not asked to make any changes to their diet. The researchers assessed the women's optimism levels via; another survey aimed to evaluate the overall healthfulness of participants' diets at the beginning of the study and one year later. The team observed that the most optimistic one-third of the women saw the most improvement in their diets, whether or not they had completed the nutrition program. Specifically, on a scale measured from zero to 110 (where higher numbers indicate better diet quality), women with the highest optimism in the nutrition program improved their diet by 1.8 points, and those with the lowest optimism improved their diet by 1.4 points. Among women not in the program, scores improved by 1.0 point for those with the highest initial optimism and by 0.3 points for those with the lowest. The differences were considered statistically meaningful. As well, the researchers observed that the least optimistic women also started out with less-healthy diets, on average, than those who had sunnier dispositions. Observing that: “participants with highest optimism achieved threefold greater [Alternate Healthy Eating Index] increase compared with those with the lowest optimism,” the study authors conclude that: “These data support a relationship between optimism and dietary quality score in postmenopausal women at baseline and over 1 year.”
Hingle MD, Wertheim BC, Tindle HA, Tinker L, Seguin RA, Rosal MC, Thomson CA. “Optimism and Diet Quality in the Women's Health Initiative.” J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Feb 18.