Impatient? Your Waistline May be at Risk

February 03, 2012

An unusual study matched impatience with higher Body Mass Index...time to embrace the Slow Food Movement!

We’ve all heard the saying “patience is a virtue.” This may be truer than ever in our current food environment where super-sized portions of both sweet and savory fast foods are on just about every corner. A new study by several economists from the University of Louisville found that those who were the most impatient also had the highest body mass index (BMI). Shedding new light on our explanation of Americans ever increasing waistline… the plethora of cheap, unhealthy foods.

The researchers reviewed historical data on BMI as well as indicators of impatience for the same population, factoring in preferences on whether they would want a small prize now or bigger prize later. All other factors were controlled.

What did they find? Impatient individuals are more likely to be obese than people who are better at waiting.

One of the lead authors and a professor at the University of Louisville commented, “It seems if you genuinely hold all other variables constant, the more patient you are, the less you weigh.” He also adds that, in the 1950s, how good Americans were at waiting didn’t really matter, because fast food and microwave meals were not yet standard. People may have been impatient, but there wasn’t really any other option than “slow cooking.”

Impatience and our current food environment, where it’s normal to eat your lunch while driving or walking down the street, has changed a lot over the past 50 years – and while a segment of the population is of normal weight (and also displayed more patience), for those who find it hard to deny their impatience, they will ultimately indulge, and their waistline will expand.

Supermarketguru is in favor of convenient food, but also health and the quality of the foods and ingredients are a huge factor. Programs going forward should include interventions based on patience and helping consumers understand the real value of this virtue.