Thanks to new research in an emerging field of study called prospection, that studies the way people project themselves into the future, by mentally stimulating future events; there is new hope for developing behavioral interventions that can help overweight women thanks to a new study from the University at Buffalo. In last month’s journal Appetite, research has been published that disagrees with previous studies regarding different levels of difficulty for obese and lean women when it comes to delaying gratification and impulse control.
Previous studies historically led researchers to conclude that overweight and obese people are more likely to forego health and more normal weight bodies in the future, in order to eat more desired, calorie-dense foods now.
But this new study shows that whether obese, overweight or lean, women who thought about future scenarios were able to postpone gratification, and were equally capable of the impulse control that lean women exhibit.
Put into everyday language, delayed gratification equals willpower. And it involves being able to delay immediate results for a better reward in the future. In the past, studies indicated that obese and overweight people found it more difficult to delay their gratification; to display willpower.
This has very long-lasting and significant implications for people who took on the findings as part of how they saw themselves; weak willed, possessing poor impulse control, not having the will-power or control over themselves that ‘normal’ people have with regards to food and eating.
Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who was senior author on the research and renown obesity specialist notes that many people find it hard to resist impulses and opt for immediate gratification, and it has no connection to whether they are overweight, slender or obese.
The wonderful part is that it is likely to prove that if people can modify delay discounting, and delayed discounting can be taught. It is possible to teach how to mentally simulate the future in order to moderate present behaviors and this type of intervention can help people become more successful at losing weight.
“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,” says Epstein.
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Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!