Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Make your New Year's Resolution stick

In the New Year many people resolve to live healthier lives with the hope of losing weight. Recent studies indicate that weight loss and successful life change are dependent upon a person’s impulse control. As I discussed in Study links mother's poor impulse control with obesity in children, impulse control determines a person’s ability to choose healthier foods over very tasty fattening alternatives. A mother’s modeling of impulse control when it comes to food, helps children acquire this skill.

Further support for a link between impulse control and obesity in children comes from a recent study, Relationship of childhood behavior disorders to weight gain from childhood into adulthood published in Ambul Pediatr. 2006 Sep-Oct;6(5):297-301. In this study Dr. Anderson and colleagues followed 655 kids for 20 years into adulthood. They found that impulse control disorders (like ADHD) were associated with obesity that began during childhood and continued into adulthood.

In the light of this recent scientific data, we can surmise that knowing how to strengthen impulse control is important in seeing your New Year’s Resolution stick. Willpower is another word for impulse control. The most important thing to know about willpower is that it is a finite resource and can be used up. Stressful life events and daily hassles use up our willpower and this is why people tend to eat fattening foods in the evening. Focused academic problem solving also tends to use up willpower, as the brain gets tired. Willpower is strengthened by sleep, relaxation and social support. A healthy diet will also strengthen impulse control and will power.

Help your child and yourself keep that New Year’s Resolution by not stocking up on unhealthy foods. Share plenty of affection and get plenty of rest. If you and your child are under stress try to eliminate the sources of stress. Cope with tension by taking walks together for 30 minutes a day.

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