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Objective To investigate the role of toddlers? self-regulation skills and temperament in predicting weight outcomes in preadolescence. Method Participants for this study included 195 children (114 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 abilities, including emotion regulation, sustained attention, and delay of gratification, while parents filled out a temperament questionnaire to assess toddlers? pleasure expression. Height and weight measures were collected when children were 4, 5, 7, and 10 years of age. Children also filled out a body image and eating questionnaire at the 10 year visit. Results Self-regulation skills in toddlers were associated with both BMI development, pediatric obesity, and body image/eating concerns. The temperament dimension of pleasure was also associated with BMI development and pediatric obesity but not body image/eating concerns. Conclusion Self-regulation difficulties across domains as well as temperament based pleasure in toddlers represented significant individual risk factors for the development of pediatric obesity eight years later. Early self-regulation difficulties also contributed to body image and eating concerns that typically accompanied overweight children. The mechanisms by which early self-regulation skills and temperament based pleasure may contribute to the development of pediatric obesity and associated weight concerns are discussed.

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International journal of obesity (2005)






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Published in final edited form as: Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 July ; 37(7): 937–942. doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.165.

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