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Children's self-control is associated with their body mass index as adults
Date:8/15/2012

Cincinnati, OH, August 16, 2012 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). (A video of children trying to delay gratification can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EjJsPylEOY.) 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)."

To further assess the adult benefits of childhood self-control, Dr. Tanya Schlam and colleagues from University of Washington, Columbia University, and University of California, Berkeley, followed-up with study participants (164 responded; 57% female), who are now in their mid-30s, to assess their current BMI (an in
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Contact: Monica Helton
journal.pediatrics@cchmc.org
513-636-7140
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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