Hot and cool executive function and body mass index in young children

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There is a need in the literature to investigate the cognitive components that play a role in obesity, particularly in early childhood. The current study investigated executive function (EF) in healthy-weight (n = 63) and overweight/obese (n = 20) 4- to 5-year-old children. No significant correlations were found between children's body mass index (BMI) and cool (non-reward based) EF. However, a significant interaction demonstrated that children who were overweight/obese made more delayed/larger food choices for themselves than healthy-weight children but made similar choices for others and did not wait longer than healthy-weight children when enduring a delay of gratification task. Findings suggest that overweight/obese preschool children do not have general deficits in EF, but may place greater value on receiving larger food rewards, even at the cost of a delay. Individual differences in delay behavior may shed light on the development of self-regulation patterns that contribute to disordered eating behavior and overweight/obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100883
JournalCognitive Development
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Childhood obesity
  • Delay of gratification
  • Executive function
  • Self-regulation


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