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Researchers Debunk Willpower and Teach the Secret of Easier Weight Loss

posted 07:18 AM EST, Wed August 29, 2012
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Researchers say that people with high self-control don't really have more willpower, they just stop enjoying junk food faster. Fortunately, by paying close attention to the amount consumed, even people with low self-control can become sated faster. 

Do those of us carrying a few extra pounds lack the willpower of our trimmer compatriots?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota say that while that's a popular explanation, it might not be true - and they think they can explain why as well as teach the skills that could lead to more moderate consumption of unhealthy foods.

Based on a series of experiments, the researchers concluded that people with high self-control didn't really have more willpower, they just stopped enjoying the consumption of unhealthy foods (became sated) faster than people with low self-control.

And it's a lot easier to stop doing something when it stops being enjoyable!

Fortunately, they say that people with low self-control can get to satiation faster simply by increasing the attention they pay to eating.

The Experiment

In an experiment, they found that when people with low self-control counted their swallows of unhealthy foods with a baseball pitch counter they became sated much faster than when they paid less attention to the quantity being consumed.


Commenting on the significance of the findings for weight management, lead researcher Joseph Redden noted, "People can essentially use attention for how much they are consuming instead of relying on self-control. Really paying a lot more attention to the quantity will lead people to feel satiated faster and eat less." 

The full research results can be found in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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Story Highlights
  • Forget Will-Power: Researchers say that people with high willpower actually just stop enjoying junk-food faster
  • Pay Attention to Lose Weight: By paying attention to how much they were eating people with low self-control also became sated faster and ate less
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