From the WSJ, in an article titled: "Overweight Kids Learn Willpower With a Sniff and a Nibble"
Dr. Boutelle, working with children between the ages of 8 and 12, recently completed a four-month study with 40 obese kids and conducted an earlier eight-week study involving 36 overweight children. The results: Children seem capable of learning to subdue their food cravings, but it isn't clear how long the willpower lasts after the experiments are over.
In the studies, the participants are given a favorite food, such as a brownie, and told to rate their craving on a scale of 1 to 5—1 means "I can resist this," and 5 is "I'm dying for it," Dr. Boutelle says. The children are instructed to put the brownie down, wait 30 seconds and rate their cravings again. Another rating is recorded after the participants sniff the brownie, then again after taking a small bite and later after staring at it for five minutes. Finally, Dr. Boutelle directs the children to throw the brownie away.
Read it all here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...
Sounds like a twist on the famous Stanford marshmellow experiments done to explore deferred gratification.
and amusing recreation of the original experiment:
I'm one of those people who has to practice self-control or willpower. Call it what you want. It is definitely not a natural behavior for me. It is a process of deliberate decision-making using tools I have learned.
I have a whole list of things I chant to myself to put a break between the "looks good must eat NOW" impulse and the food actually going into my mouth. For instance:
Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.
Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.
If hunger is not the problem, eating is not the solution.
After a minute or so, the craving is usually gone. If not, there are other tricks (depending on where I am). The "skinny me" photos on the fridge. Go put on a pair of skinny jeans. Have a cup of tea. Mostly just don't keep that stuff in the house. Never go to the grocery store alone.
My nutritionist taught me to ask myself if I was eating on impulse or if I really, really, really wanted that particular item. In the latter case, go ahead and eat it - though obviously not the entire cheesecake. Because if you don't, the craving will drive you nuts and you will end up eating other stuff as substitutes that won't do the trick (this is why eating 20 lbs of celery and carrots doesn't help!) and eventually, you will give in and eat that craved food and probably eat too much of it.