Weighing the Benefits of Childhood Self-Control

Certainly, there are many factors influencing adult body weight. Nevertheless, study authors suggested that, "given the severity and intractability of the obesity epidemic, accounting for any of the variance in BMI may have practical implications."

In other words, teaching children self-control can be one of many tools in the arsenal to combat the obesity epidemic -- an idea with which other doctors agree.

"Beyond the well-known factors in the obesity equation -- diet and exercise -- parents and schools should focus on [self-control] as a target for education and prevention of obesity in the youth," said George Blackburn, chair in nutrition medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

In a culture where technology has afforded instant gratification in many things, this may be harder and harder to teach.

"Everything is instant now," said Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "These subjects were children when there were no touch-tone phones, let alone hand-held devices, laptops, iPads, etc. Society today doesn't want to have to wait for anything, and to a large extent, we don't have to.

"As such, it can be easy to resent the waiting that is necessary for us to lose even a pound or two, let alone 20, 30 or 50 pounds, and the persistence that staying on a diet and activity regimen requires."

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