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Is Impulse Control Impaired in Type 2s?

Working with a small group of type 2 patients, Japanese scientists think that they may have found one reason why some people develop obesity that can eventually lead to diabetes: poor impulse control.

Researchers at Waseda University tested 27 middle-aged male type 2 patients and 27 nondiabetic patients of the same age and sex to determine their ability to control impulses. The participants were told to press a button whenever the correct prompt appeared on a computer screen. They were not to press the button otherwise, however, because doing so would lower their score.

According to the researchers, the type 2 patients scored significantly lower than the nondiabetic control group, indicating a lower level of impulse control. To the Japanese scientists, who say they checked for errors in their instruments and motor problems in the patients, the results suggest that type 2s may have an inborn “neuropsychological deficit” that lowers their ability to control impulses. If so, such lowered ability over the course of a lifetime could lead to obesity and the onset of metabolic syndrome, both precursors to type 2.

Hiroaki Kumano, the lead researcher, said that type 2s are always having to make quick decisions about what to eat or not eat-a constant challenge to impulse control that may have been compromised long before their diagnosis.

The test sample was far too small to provide conclusive evidence, but it does open the door to further research on differences in the brain that could invite the onset of obesity or diabetes.

The study has been written up in BioPyschoSocial Medicine.

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Self-control impaired in type 2 diabetics

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