fresh producePeople who have a positive attitude and feel in control of their own destiny are more likely to practice healthy habits, say Australian researchers who studied data on the diet, exercise and personality types of more than 7,000 people.

Director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research Deborah Cobb-Clark and her colleagues found that people with a brighter outlook are more likely to eat a healthy diet and exercise more and less likely to smoke and drink alcohol to excess. Conversely, those who felt that their lives were controlled by fate or luck tended to make unhealthy lifestyle choices.

 "Our research shows a direct link between the type of personality a person has and a healthy lifestyle," said Cobb-Clark.

The research also revealed strong gender differences, with men seeking physical results and women focusing on the daily pleasure they get from living a health lifestyle.

The authors believe their findings could help shape public health policies on health-related matters such as obesity, noting that providing people with information on diet and exercise is insufficient to bring about a significant change in eating habits.

"Understanding the psychological underpinning of a person's eating patterns and exercise habits is central to understanding obesity," said Cobb-Clark.

The report was published recently by the University of Melbourne in the Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series.