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Monday, September 17, 2012

Children’s Self-Control Is Associated With Their Body Mass Index as Adults

Whoda thunk that kids with poor self-control would become adults with poor self-control?
As adults, we know that self-control and delaying gratification are important for making healthful eating choices, portion control, and maintaining a healthy weight.

However, exhibiting these skills at a young age actually may affect weight later in life. A new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics finds that delaying gratification longer at 4 years of age is associated with having a lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years later.

Between 1968 and 1974, 653 4-year-olds completed a delay of gratification test, in which the children were given one treat, such as a cookie or a marshmallow, and were told that they would be given a second treat if they could wait to eat the first treat for an unspecified length of time (it ended up being 15 minutes).

Follow-up studies found that delaying gratification for a longer time as a preschooler was associated with adolescent academic strength, social competence, planfulness, ability to handle stress, and higher SAT scores.

According to Tanya R, Schlam, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health's Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, "Interventions can improve young children's self-control, which may decrease children's risk of becoming overweight and may have further positive effects on other outcomes important to society (general health, financial stability, and a reduced likelihood of being convicted of a crime)."
Surprise, surprise.


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