Helping Children Wait for Rewards Linked to BMI

Helping children learn to wait for rewards is a way to help them keep up a healthy weight. Researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City found that BMI was related to child’s ability to wait for a more desirable reward when offered an immediate reward. The researchers studied a groups of preteens enrolled in a 12 week obesity intervention program called Healthy Hawks. “Each week, children earn a point if they complete their goals worksheet. They can spend that point immediately on a small toy prize of save points to use on a larger prize” They found that the children with higher BMIs spent their points immediately on the small reward and not save the points for the more desirable reward. This study helps us understand better “the theory that obese children are less likely to delay gratification than overweight and healthy weight children. Hopefully more studies will be done to help develop specific strategies parents can use to help their children learn to wait for rewards thus improving delayed gratification.

Source: Amanda S. Bruce, William R. Black, Jared M. Bruce, Marina Daldalian, Laura E. Martin and Ann M. Davis. Ability to Delay Gratification and BMI in Preadolescence Obesity. Published online 9 December 2010.