Kids’ self-control linked to their BMI as adults

Young children, who practise self-control and delay gratification longer in terms of eating habits the age of four, have a lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years later, a new study has suggested.

The research conducted a delay of gratification test on 653 4-year-olds where they were given one treat, such as a cookie or a marshmallow. The tots 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.

Follow-up studies discovered that although 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, it resulted into lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years later.

The research team, which followed-up with study participants (164 responded; 57 percent female), who are now in their mid-30s, assessed their current BMI.

It was then cross-referenced with how they did on the delay of gratification test as children.

The researchers found that each minute a child delayed gratification, it resulted in a 0.2 decrease in adult BMI. Only 24 percent of the respondents were overweight and 9 percent were obese.

This study has been published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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