Body weight and its association with impulsivity in middle and old age individuals

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Abstract

Impulsivity, conceptualized as impulsive personality trait, poor inhibitory control and enhanced reward sensitivity, has been strongly linked to obesity. In particular, a disequilibrium between cognitive control and reward sensitivity has been observed in obese individuals in both behavioural and imaging studies. While this issue has been widely investigated in children and adults, it has received little attention in older adults. Here, obese and non-obese participants aged between 40 and 70 years completed the Barratt Impulsiveness scale (assessing motor, non-planning and attentional impulsiveness), a Go/no-go task with foods and non-foods (assessing inhibitory control) and a reward sensitivity battery with high and low caloric foods (assessing liking, wanting, tastiness and frequency of consumption). We observed that participants with higher BMI reported increased wanting for high calorie foods, but did not show poorer inhibitory control. Interestingly, participants who scored lower on the MMSE reported to consume high calorie more than low calorie foods. Finally, those who presented low scores on non-planning and motor impulsiveness subscales reported higher tastiness ratings for low calorie foods. These results show that increased reward sensitivity but not reduced inhibitory control may characterize higher BMI during aging. Importantly, they also highlight new findings concerning food preferences among older adults.

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