A new study conducted by researchers in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Psychology has found that obese women tend to have weaker impulse control than normal-weight women.
As far as obese men, the impulse levels were nearly the same as normal-weight men.
The researchers conducted the study to show differences in decision-making skills between obese and normal-weight men and women. They specifically focused on delay discounting, which is the measure of how much an individual is driven by immediate gratification versus the willingness to wait for delayed but greater rewards.
Study 95 men and women, researchers gave the participants the choice of receiving varying hypothetical amounts of money immediately or fixed hypothetical amounts of money to be received after delays of two weeks, one month, six months or one, three, five or 10 years. The hypothetical rewards ranged from $1,000 to $50,000.
Researchers found that obese women “discounted the value of future rewards at a rate three-to-four times greater than that of normal-weight women, suggesting greater impulsivity.” Obese men and normal-weight men and women showed very similar levels of delay discounting.
Eating-related disinhibition, which is the tendency to overeat in response to certain situations or cues such as a big display of dessert, is being used as one explanation in the differences between men and women.
"Our study found that obese men have more impulse control than obese women. So, obese men may be protected from more impulsive behavior on the delay-discounting task by having lower disinhibition in general. Obese women may have the double whammy of being female and having higher body mass index," said UAB researcher Rosalyn Weller, Ph.D.
This study was published in the November issue of the journal Appetite.
Source: UAB Press Release