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Childhood Obesity and Impulsivity: An Investigation With Performance-Based Measures

  • Sandra Verbeken (a1), Caroline Braet (a2), Line Claus (a3), Chantal Nederkoorn (a4) and Jaap Oosterlaan (a5)...


The study investigated whether obese children are more impulsive than lean children, taking into account the multidimensionality of the construct. Responses of 41 overweight children were compared to those of 40 lean children. The Stop Task, Circle Drawing Task and Opposite Worlds Task were administered to measure executive inhibitory control, and the Maudsley Index of Childhood Delay Aversion and the Door Opening Task were administered to measure motivational inhibitory control. On the Stop Task, the overweight children showed less inhibitory control. On the Opposite Worlds task, we found no significant difference, whereas on the Circle Drawing Task an unexpected group difference was found. Although on the Door Opening Task the overweight children showed greater reward sensitivity, they were equally motivated to wait on the Maudsley Index of Childhood Delay. We conclude that the findings were different depending on the measure used, but that they suggest that overweight children can be characterised by a decrease in executive and motivational inhibitory control.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Sandra Verbeken, Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, H. Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.



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