Introduction: Recent research has explored the role that personality traits play in health and weight determination. This study extends current research by evaluating the extent to which behavior mediates the impact of neuroticism and body weight using polygenic risk as a measure of neurotic tendency.
Methods: Structural equation modelling disaggregates the effect of neurotic tendency on BMI into direct and indirect effects. Indirect effects-those transmitted through mediating health behaviors—allow for the simultaneous comparison of multiple behavioral mediators— exercise frequency, smoking intensity, sleep sufficiency and screen time.
Results: While health-related behavior-screen time, sleep, smoking and exercise-directly influence BMI, neurotic tendency showed no direct effect. The strong association between neurotic tendency and behavior, however, indicated that polygenic risk of neuroticism indirectly influenced BMI through two health related behaviors-screen time and smoking. Therefore, the relationship between neurotic disposition and BMI is transmitted through behavioral pathways rather than directly.
Conclusion: This research offers novel insight into the relationship between personality and health outcomes. If behavior manifests through personality disposition, then understanding the relationship between personality, behavior and BMI will help guide weight management interventions to focus on strategies to help manage responses to stress to elicit desired weight outcomes.