Dr. Kushner’s Personality-Type Diet

At the recent Obesity Society meeting in New Orleans, I had a long chat with Dr. Robert Kushner, Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Medical Director, Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness Institute and Past President, American Board of Nutrition Physician Specialists. He is also the incoming President of the Obesity Society (formerly NAASO).

The reason I bring this up is because I has the opportunity to listen to Dr. Kushner’s ideas on “personalizing” obesity treatments. As I understand it, his point is that it is not enough to consider motivation or readiness for change. One also has to consider personalities, as no matter whether or not someone is ready or not, their personality cannot be ignored and may pose an important barrier.

This is not simply about “high achievers” or “low achievers” or “introverts and extroverts”. It is more about whether or not you are a:

  • Hearty Portioner or an Unguided Grazer?
  • Hate-to-Move Struggler or a No-Time-to-Exercise Protester?
  • Can’t-Say-No Pleaser or an Emotional Stuffer?

Dr. Kushner has a whole bunch of categories (if I recall correctly there are 17 types!) that need to be considered in order to appropriately counsel for weight management. All of this comes with an elaborate personality type test that one can take (66 questions in all) on his website, which also promotes his best-selling book.

I must admit that I have neither read the book nor taken the personality test – but the idea that people’s personalities must be considered when counselling on weight management intuitively makes sense.

What I’d like to see now is a study on whether or not including counseling strategies based on Dr. Kushner’s personality types actually yields better long-term results than conventional approaches. Knowing Dr. Kushner, I expect that such studies are underway.