Consideration of Immediate and Future Consequences, Smoking Status, and Body Mass Index

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Objective: Health-related behaviors often involve immediate costs to achieve long-term benefits. How one considers the future outcomes of present day behaviors (e.g., temporal orientation) may play a role in engagement in healthy behaviors. The Consideration of Future Consequences Scale (CFCS) measures temporal orientation on a unidimensional continuum. Recently, 2 subscales of the CFCS have been reported: immediate (CFC-I) and future (CFC-F) consequences. These support a multidimensional conceptualization of temporal orientation. Confirmatory factor analysis was performed on CFCS data. The associations between 2 health-related variables [smoking and body mass index (BMI)] and each subscale were then explored, controlling for sociodemographic variables. Method: A random sample of 2,000 individuals aged 18 years or over was selected from the edited electoral role for one English city and sent a postal questionnaire, including the CFCS and questions on age, gender, socioeconomic position, and self-reported current smoking status and BMI. Results: Complete data was provided by 800 participants (response rate = 40.0%). The 2-factor model fitted CFCS data better than the 1-factor model. In multiple linear regression, CFC-I was positively associated with BMI, B (95% confidence interval [CI]) = 0.47 (0.06 to 0.88), p = .025; and odds of being a current smoker, odds ratio (95% CI) = 1.28 (1.02 to 1.60), p = .035; CFC-F was not associated with health-related variables. Conclusions: These data support the multidimensional conceptualization of temporal orientation. Consideration of immediate consequences may be a more important determinant of health-related behaviors than consideration of future consequences.

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