Fat kids lack self-control

You can file in the “that’s obvious” folder if you want, but it’s interesting to see it confirmed through scientific study. It seems that the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine published some studies on childhood obesity, including the following:

At age three, the children took part in a test of their self-control. They were left sitting alone in a room with several toys, one of which they were asked not to touch until an adult returned. Those who waited at least 75 seconds before playing with the toy were considered high in self-regulation.

Then at age five, the children participated in a similar exercise in delayed gratification that involved the choice between a smaller portion of a favourite food immediately or a larger amount after several minutes.

Compared with children who showed high self-control and were able to wait at least 210 seconds before diving in, children who were unable to wait at both ages had the highest body mass index scores for their age at 12 years, and the fastest increases in BMI over the nine-year followup, the researchers found.

“In essence, it appears that children with greater self-regulation tend to be leaner, smarter, and better able to get along with others,” Dr. Robert Whitaker and Rachel Gooze of Temple University in Philadelphia said in an editorial accompanying the research.

Ouch.

From the CBC.

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One Response to Fat kids lack self-control

  1. Ryan Griffin - yep...from Hatemail says:

    This is interesting. It seems like a preliminary study, but I am interested to see what comes out of future research. The second study could suggest that the probability of the child taking the food may be dependant on how they perceive their parents acting in the same situation. The weight control issues later in life seem plausible to me, but I wonder how Dr. Whitaker determined that the children who exhibited “greater self-regulation” were smarter and better able to get along with others (sounds like confirmation bias). Thanks for the post, and I added you to my RSS reader!

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