A study by the University of Wisconsin has revealed that that learning self-control as children is crucial to staying slim as adults. Young children who practice self-control and delay gratification longer in terms of eating behaviors have lowered BMI (body mass index) thirty years later.
For their study researchers conducted a delayed gratification test on more than six-hundred-fifty four-year-olds. 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.
Then a follow study was conducted with about a quarter of the new participants. The measurement of their BMI (body mass index) showed that twenty percent of study participants were overweight while nine percent were obese. They found each extra minute the youngsters were able to wait for their treat was associated with a 0.2point decrease in their BMI when they were adults.
Delaying gratification for a longer time was associated with adolescent academic strength, social competence, playfulness, ability to handle stress, and higher SAT scores. Lead researcher Dr Tanya Schlam, explained children who could delay gratification for longer were also more likely to succeed at school and handle stress in other follow-ups.
She added teaching adolescent self-control could be an effective way of tackling obesity, especially because tempting high-calorie foods are so readily available. 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. The study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.