Behavioral economic analysis of activity choice in obese children

Health Psychol. 1991;10(5):311-6. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.10.5.311.


Evaluated children's choice for sedentary versus vigorous activity. Experiment 1 assessed the influence of percent overweight (less than 20%, 20% to 80%, greater than 80%) on choice of a moderately liked vigorous activity at a constant variable ratio (VR) 2 reinforcement schedule versus a highly liked sedentary activity with the schedule varied from VR2 to VR32. All children chose the sedentary choice when the schedules were VR2. As the cost for sedentary activity increased, lean and moderately obese children switched to the vigorous activity, but the very obese children still chose the sedentary activity. Experiment 2 compared moderately obese children's choice between easily accessible, highly or least liked vigorous activities (VR2) and highly liked sedentary activity with the schedule varied from VR2 through VR16. When the reinforcement schedules were equal, and sedentary activity and vigorous activity were rated as equally linked, children chose the sedentary activity. All subjects switched from the sedentary to the vigorous activity, but there were no differences in choice as a function of liking for vigorous activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Choice Behavior
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Social Environment