Impulsivity and Obesity in Adolescents
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Honors Theses; 2011
Delay discounting is often characterized as an index of impulsive behavior. Previous research with adults indicates that delay discounting is related to body weight, with more impulsive discounting seen in obese participants. The purpose of this study was to compare delay discounting between healthy-weight and obese adolescents to determine if earlier findings, with adults, would extend to this age group. An additional group of overweight adolescents was recruited to determine how delay discounting is associated with this intermediate weight status. Furthermore, a self-report measure of impulsivity was included. Adolescents (14 to 16 years of age) were recruited based on body-mass index and grouped into healthy-weight (n = 20), overweight (n = 16), and obese (n = 20) categories. Results indicated that there was an overall effect of group (p = .001). Post hoc tests revealed that healthy-weight adolescents discounted less impulsively by delay than overweight and obese adolescents, while overweight and obese adolescents did not differ significantly. However, there was no significant group difference for the self-report measure of impulsivity (p >.05). These results suggest that previous associations between body weight and delay discounting in adults are replicated with adolescents. Additionally, overweight adolescents discounted similarly to obese adolescents. As such, incorporating the finding that overweight and obese adolescents appear to undervalue delayed outcomes into existing treatment programs may help improve outcomes for these populations.
2011 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum Winner. Second Place in Psychology.
The Honors and Scholars House, The Ohio State University
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