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Children With Poor Self-Control at Risk for Weight Problems

Study links a child's inability to delay gratification to increased body mass in adolescence

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Children with poor self-regulating abilities at a young age are more likely to develop weight problems as they approach adolescence, according to a pair of studies reported in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In one study, Lori A. Francis, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., and a colleague looked at data on 1,061 children who took part in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. They looked at self-control at age 3 and delayed-gratification capacities at age 5. The body mass index (BMI) and z scores for the children were calculated at ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12. The researchers found that children who scored low on both self-regulatory traits at ages 3 and 5 had the highest BMI z scores at each age.

In the other study, Desiree M. Seeyave, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used data from 805 children at age 4 years, from the same earlier study, who were tested for their ability to delay gratification. The children who failed the test (47 percent) were more likely to be overweight at age 11 (relative risk, 1.29), the investigators found.

"Children with limited ability to delay gratification may be particularly at risk in today's environment of ubiquitous food availability when parents provide limited guidance. Indeed, children with insecure attachment have less ability to delay gratification, and insensitive or neglectful parenting increases overweight risk," the authors write.

Abstract - Francis
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Abstract - Seeyave
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