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Obese, overweight individuals less likely to consider next meal

Obesity has been linked to differences in what is known as delay discounting, the tendency to treat something as less significant based on how far off it is in the future.

By Amy Wallace
Obese, overweight individuals less likely to consider next meal
A new study has found that people who are obese or overweight are less likely to consider next meal when making portion size decisions. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 18 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Bristol found that obese and overweight people often do not take their next meal into consideration in portion size decisions.

In the study, presented this week at the 25th annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, participants completed a series of computerized tasks including selecting lunch portion sizes after they were told how long dinner would be after lunch in a time ranging up to eight hours.

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Results showed that participants with a high body mass index, or BMI, were less influenced by the timing of the inter-meal interval when making decisions about portion size.

"Meal timings and future planning are an important area of research in obesity. These findings are exciting because they are the first to demonstrate that discounting operates in planning from one meal to the next and that people with obesity might not be factoring that in to their choices," Annie Zimmerman, a doctoral student at the University of Bristol, said in a news release.

"Our results are consistent with the idea that overeating is promoted by feeling in the moment, disregarding future consequences of decisions. This novel finding might help to explain why being overweight is associated with irregular meal timings. Potentially there could be targeted interventions for obesity to promote future thinking in meal planning."

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Participants were also asked to complete a monetary delay discounting task, which showed there was no interaction between that task and the inter-meal interval task. However, both tasks predicted BMI.

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