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Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 Jul;37(7):937-42. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.165. Epub 2012 Oct 9.

Predicting weight outcomes in preadolescence: the role of toddlers' self-regulation skills and the temperament dimension of pleasure.

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Center for Children and Families and Department of Psychology, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA.



To investigate the role of toddlers' self-regulation skills and temperament in predicting weight outcomes in preadolescence.


Participants for this study included 195 children (114 girls) obtained from three different cohorts participating in a larger ongoing longitudinal study. At 2 years of age, participants participated in several laboratory tasks designed to assess their self-regulation abilities, including emotion regulation, sustained attention and delay of gratification, whereas parents filled out a temperament questionnaire to assess toddlers' pleasure expression. Height and weight measures were collected when children were 4, 5, 7 and 10 years of age. Children also filled out a body image and eating questionnaire at the 10-year visit.


Self-regulation skills in toddlers were associated with body mass index (BMI) development and pediatric obesity as well as body image/eating concerns. The temperament dimension of pleasure was also associated with BMI development and pediatric obesity but not body image/eating concerns.


Self-regulation difficulties across domains as well as temperament-based pleasure in toddlers represented significant individual risk factors for the development of pediatric obesity 8 years later. Early self-regulation difficulties also contributed to body image and eating concerns that typically accompanied overweight children. The mechanisms by which early self-regulation skills and temperament-based pleasure may contribute to the development of pediatric obesity and associated weight concerns are discussed.

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