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Self-Control and Unhealthy Body Weight: The Role of Impulsivity and Restraint

Author

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  • Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.

    (University of Sydney)

  • Dahmann, Sarah C.

    (University of Melbourne)

  • Kamhöfer, Daniel A.

    (Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE))

  • Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah

    (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)

Abstract

We examine the relationship between trait self-control and body weight. Data from a population representative household survey reveal that limited self-control is strongly associated with both objective and subjective measures of unhealthy body weight. Those with limited self-control are characterized by reduced exercising, repeated dieting, unhealthier eating habits, and poorer nutrition. We propose an empirical method to isolate two facets of self-control limitations—high impulsivity and low restraint. Each has differential predictive power. Physical activity, dieting, and overall body weight are more strongly associated with restraint; impulsivity is more predictive of when, where, and what people eat.

Suggested Citation

  • Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Dahmann, Sarah C. & Kamhöfer, Daniel A. & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2022. "Self-Control and Unhealthy Body Weight: The Role of Impulsivity and Restraint," IZA Discussion Papers 14987, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14987
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    brief self-control scale; obesity; body mass index; diet; exercise;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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