Title: Childhood self-control and adult health
Funder: Economic and Social Research Council
Behavioural Science Centre Member: Michael Daly (PI)
Other Researchers: Liam Delaney (Project mentor)
Self-control enables people to delay gratification and control impulses. A strong capacity for self-control has been linked with nearly all aspects of healthy living: avoiding high fat and sugar foods, engaging in exercise, and staying clear of addictive substances. The proposed programme of research will provide scientific evidence detailing whether and how individual differences in childhood self-control contribute to the emergence of patterns of health behaviour and health problems over the lifespan. This project will capitalize on the existence of several large population-representative samples which track over 10,000 individuals for between 15 and 50 years with data recorded on multiple occasions from early life into adulthood. These incredible data resources include detailed measures of child temperament that will be used to gauge how childhood self-control shapes the uptake, maintenance and decline of smoking, drinking, physical activity, and substance use from adolescence through to middle age. Furthermore, this project will track how early life self-control links to later health outcomes (e.g. body mass index, biomarkers of inflammation and cardiovascular risk) and will begin to unpick the complex interrelationships between self-control, socioeconomic status, and the development of health.