Toddler self-regulation skills predict risk for pediatric obesity Article

Graziano, PA, Calkins, SD, Keane, SP. (2010). Toddler self-regulation skills predict risk for pediatric obesity . INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OBESITY, 34(4), 633-641. 10.1038/ijo.2009.288

cited authors

  • Graziano, PA; Calkins, SD; Keane, SP



  • Objective:To investigate the role of early self-regulation skills, including emotion regulation, sustained attention and inhibitory control/reward sensitivity, in predicting pediatric obesity in early childhood.Method: Participants for this study included 57 children (25 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 skills. Height and weight measures were collected when children were 2 and 5.5 years of age.Results:Self-regulation skills in toddlerhood were predictive of both normal variations in body mass index (BMI) development and pediatric obesity. Specifically, emotion regulation was the primary self-regulation skill involved in predicting normative changes in BMI as no effects were found for sustained attention or inhibitory control/reward sensitivity. However, both emotion regulation and inhibitory control/reward sensitivity predicted more extreme weight problems (that is, pediatric obesity), even after controlling for2-year BMI. Thus, toddlers with poor emotion regulation skills and lower inhibitory control skills/higher reward sensitivity were more likely to be classified as overweight/at risk at 5.5 years of age.Conclusion:Early self-regulation difficulties across domains (that is, behavioral and emotional) represent significant individual risk factors for the development of pediatric obesity. Mechanisms by which early self-regulation skills may contribute to the development of pediatric obesity are discussed. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

publication date

  • April 1, 2010

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 633

end page

  • 641


  • 34


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