Friday, June 14, 2013

Ability to delay gratification in preschool predicts BMI 30 years later

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether preschoolers' performance on a delay of gratification task would predict their body mass index (BMI) 30 years later.

STUDY DESIGN: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, 4-year-olds from a university-affiliated preschool completed the classic delay of gratification task. As part of a longitudinal study, a subset (n = 164; 57% women) were followed up approximately 30 years later and self-reported their height and weight. Data were analyzed using hierarchical regression.

RESULTS: Performance on the delay of gratification task accounted for a significant portion of variance in BMI (4%; P < .01), over and above the variance accounted for by sex alone (13%). Each additional minute that a preschooler delayed gratification predicted a 0.2-point reduction in BMI in adulthood.
--Tanya Schlam, Nicole Wilson, Yuichi Shoda, Walter Mischel, and Ozlem Ayduk, 2013, Journal of Pediatrics, on another benefit of being able to wait for the second marshmallow. Walter Mischel: 83 years old and still publishing research!