Relationship between weight status and delay discounting in a sample of adolescent cigarette smokers


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Abstract

Obesity and cigarette smoking are often cited separately as the top two preventable causes of death in the United States; however, little research has explored the factors associated with being both obese and a smoker. Delay discounting is a behavioral characteristic that may underlie both of these conditions/behaviors. Delay discounting describes the extent to which an individual discounts the value of an outcome because of a delay in its occurrence. Higher rates of discounting are often considered as an index of impulsivity and have been linked with obesity and cigarette smoking. No research to date has explored delay discounting in a sample of obese smokers. For this study, adolescent smokers classified as obese (body mass index >95th percentile) and healthy weight (body mass index between the 5th and 85th percentiles) were compared on a laboratory assessment of delay discounting. Obese smokers discounted significantly more by delay than healthy weight smokers. This difference remained statistically significant even after controlling for demographic variables that differed across groups. These findings suggest that the relationships between delay discounting and obesity and cigarette smoking may be additive, such that extreme discounting might proportionally increase the risk of becoming an obese smoker. However, future prospective study is needed to fully determine the veracity of this hypothesis.

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