Study Shows That Impulsive Behaviour Could Cause Weight Gain in Children

A study by the University of Buffalo has found that impulsive children are more likely to be overweight. The reason is that impulsive children eat after than introverts which could lead to more weight gain. Moreover, these children are more likely to feel the urgency to eat if food is in front of them.

This study comes when child obesity is rising. People need to understand the psychological and behavioral reasons for overeating as it would help them develop treatments to prevent it, thus lowering obesity rates.

According to the lead study author some the University of Pennsylvania, Robert Berkowitz, temperament is a vital factor in child development. Researchers often link it to behavioral and developmental outcomes. Despite this, not many studies have examined the association between obesity and temperament.

How researchers conducted the study

The team gathered 28 volunteers taking part in a family intervention program. The program tried to encourage children between the ages of four and eight that were likely to develop obesity to eat slower.

The researchers evaluated the children’s internal food cues. These included their fullness after waiting. They also looked at their external food cues, such as their eating speed and reaction to tasting, smelling, and eating food.

The team compared these cues to the children’s reactions to negative feelings, impulsivity, self-control, and personality. The results indicated that children with more self-control were less likely to overeat. Furthermore, the introverted, unimpulsive children were also more likely to eat slowly.

Parents could contribute to poor eating habits

Another study author and a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Education, University of Buffalo, Alyssa Button, point out that parents sometimes contribute to issues with obesity. She states that some parents soothe their children’s negative feelings or temperament by offering them food.

For this reason, Button recommends more studies that focus on how the child’s temperament could affect how their children feed them. They could try to determine if the issue between obesity and temperament occurs in two ways. In addition, researchers could investigate whether eating slower could reduce impulsiveness with time.

The researchers note that more work is needed to understand the temporal relationship between these two traits. For instance, they could determine if poor eating habits enhance impulse control or impulsiveness causes terrible eating habits.

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