Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Physiol Behav. 2010 Jul 14;100(5):438-45. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.04.029. Epub 2010 May 21.

Food reinforcement, delay discounting and obesity.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214-3000, United States.


Choice is a central construct in behavioral economics, with choice research divided into choice of concurrent alternative reinforcers, which is conceptualized as relative reinforcing value, or choice of small immediate versus larger delayed rewards, usually of the same commodity, which is conceptualized as delay of gratification and delay discounting. Relative reinforcing value, delay of gratification and delay discounting paradigms can be used to study obesity, which involves strong motivation to obtain and consume food reinforcers. Strong food reinforcement and difficulties in delay of gratification are risk factors for child weight gain, and both are related to individual differences in overweight/obesity. Delay discounting interacts with food reinforcement to predict energy intake. We provide a selective review of research on each of these areas, and argue that the division of choice into reinforcing value versus delay discounting is based on an arbitrary definition based on the temporality of choices. We present a model that integrates reinforcing value and delay discounting approaches. Implications of this theoretical approach to better understand excess energy intake and obesity are discussed. The paper represents an invited review by a symposium, award winner or keynote speaker at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior [SSIB] Annual Meeting in Portland, July 2009.

2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk