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Health & Medicine Fat or Skinny, Women can Similarly Delay Instant Gratification for Future Rewards

Fat or Skinny, Women can Similarly Delay Instant Gratification for Future Rewards

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First Posted: Aug 30, 2013 12:27 PM EDT
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Just because you think that fat chick sitting on the subway would start leering at a McDonald's advertisement doesn't mean she has any less willpower than Kate Moss (who, let's face it, probably has her vitamin capsule meals created for her by a chef at her million dollar mansion-but that's beside the point.)

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In any case, researchers at the University of Buffalo looked at behavioral interventions that help to delay gratification in order to improve healthier habits. And despite what we may think, both lean and overweight women alike showed the same resistance to delicious treats and other rewards. 

 "This research is certainly welcome news for people who have struggled to lose weight, because it shows that when people are taught to imagine, or simulate the future, they can improve their ability to delay gratification," renowned obesity expert, Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences said, via a press release, who was the senior research author of the study.

Epstein believes that many people have difficulty resisting impulses for immediate gratification and are thus unable to look beyond to the future benefits. Unfortunately, many who have difficulties losing weight also have similar problems with delayed gratification.

 "Now we have developed a treatment for this," said Epstein, via the release. "We can teach people how to reduce delay discounting, where they learn how to mentally simulate the future in order to moderate their behavior in the present."

Their study involved 24 lean women and 24 overweight and obese women, all of whom had undergone several behavioral assessments in order to determine the differences in each person's motivational levels regarding perspective on time and how much they sought out regarding fun and rewards.

The researchers evaluated delaying gratification used in a hypothetical test that could help different amounts of money become available in the future depending on the participant's choice.

Participants were asked to think about future events and whether or not they would occur during various time periods involving a monetary test. They were then allowed to choose between $95 now and $100 in six months and were then instructed about what they felt would be their most vivid event that could happen in six months from now.

A control groups was then asked to think during the monetary test of vivid scenes from a Pinocchio story they had read.

Researchers found that those who engaged in the future thinking exercise were able to delay discounting and there was relatively no difference between larger or leaner women.

More information regarding the study can be found via the journal Appetite

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