False Assumptions about Impulsiveness

Impulsiveness is a false assumption made about people with obesity. It relates to a common, false weight bias — that people with obesity are undisciplined and cannot control their own impulses. A new study published in Obesity provides some objective data to put this bias in perspective.

Katrijn Houben and colleagues looked critically at the idea that impulsiveness increases one’s vulnerability to tasty, high-caloric food. They used standardized measures to quantify impulse control in response to random cues and to food cues in women with BMIs ranging from 14 to 40.

They found no relationship between obesity and impulsive responses to generalized cues, but an increased response to food cues in women with excess weight and obesity.

One size never fits all in obesity. Impulsiveness is not a generalized problem for people with obesity. And even when it comes to food-specific impulses, not every person with obesity has the same issue. Reacting to food cues can be a tremendous problem for some with obesity and a non-issue for others.

Generalizations driven by bias are unhelpful. It’s time to drop the assumptions about obesity and self-discipline.

Click here to read the study by Houben et al and click here to read more about food cues.

Call It Impulsive, photograph © Aaron Brown / flickr

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