The Relationships Between Personality and Adherence to Healthy Diet and Exercise Behaviours in University Students: A Moderator Analysis
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Obesity is increasing yet largely avoidable, especially by establishing smart dietary and exercise habits during youth. This thesis set out to explore the relationship between personality and self-reported diet and physical activity patterns in university students, considering year of study as a potential moderator. The role of residency in obesity-causing behaviours was also examined. Undergraduate and graduate students (N = 114; 30 male) responded to a series of questionnaires encompassing the Five-Factor Model of personality, detailed food frequency, and exercise duration and intensity. Adjusting for covariates, Openness was identified as the strongest personality predictor for consumption of nutritionally dense foods and avoidance of indulgence foods. Additionally, year of study moderated some personality-health behaviour relationships. Students living independently were more likely to exercise with a higher intensity, but have poorer diets, than those living at home. These findings suggest that personality traits and environmental factors interact, determining the likelihood of a student developing behaviours that lead to obesity. Future research should replicate similar methods with an improved longitudinal design.