For Obesity, the Future Is Now

The Huffington Post:

Obesity is largely a failure of self-control. I know it’s possible to quibble about calories and carbs and dietary fat, but fundamentally, obesity comes down to valuing fattening foods today, in this moment, more than we value a healthy future. We know, rationally, that we should forego the French fries and brownies for some greater payoff down the line, but the moment’s temptations make it hard to keep our eyes on that future reward.

We do have the cognitive ability to project days or weeks or even years into the future, but we don’t do it when we’re making food choices in the here and now. What if we could trick ourselves into keeping our heads in the future? That’s the idea that a team of University of Buffalo psychological scientists has been exploring. Leonard Epstein and his colleagues wanted to see if overeaters might make less impulsive decisions if they were able to project themselves into the future at times of temptation.

Again, the future thinking did the trick. As described in an article to appear in the journal Psychological Science, those who cued future memories during snack time consumed far fewer calories than did the controls.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology.

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