These findings may provide parents with some motivation to teach their children self-control skills, including those which focus on delayed gratification.
Young children who do not display an ability to regulate their behavior or to delay gratification in exchange for a larger reward appear predisposed to gain extra weight by their pre-teen years, according to two reports published in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
In both studies, children were tested in self-control skills. Those who were unable to regulate their behavior had the highest body mass index (BMI) scores for their age at 12 years and the most rapid increases in BMI over the nine-year follow-up.
Children who displayed a limited ability to delay gratification were 29 percent more likely to be overweight at age 11. The association was partially explained by mothers' weight status. "The influence of maternal weight status on child weight reflects genetic as well as environmental factors, such as feeding patterns and availability of food," the authors write.