Background: Preventing obesity is a worldwide public health priority. In vulnerable children living in obesogenic environments, with easy access to high-caloric food, alterations in inhibitory control functions might favor excessive food intake and affect energy regulation. We hypothesized that overweight/obese children would present lower inhibitory control in comparison to normal weight children.
Methods: We measured inhibitory control functions in 93 otherwise healthy overweight/obese and 92 normal weight 10-year-old children using the Stroop test and the Go/No-Go task. Event-related potentials were recorded during the Go/No-Go task.
Results: Overweight/obese children showed slower reaction times (1248.6 ms (95% confidence interval (CI): 1182.9-1314.3) vs 1149.0 ms (95% CI: 1083.0-1215.1)) on the Stroop test, higher reaction time variability (0.25 (95% CI: 0.22-0.27) vs 0.21 (95% CI: 0.19-0.24)) on the Go/No-Go task and decreased P300 amplitude (4.1 μV (95% CI: 3.0-5.2) vs 6.4 μV (95% CI: 5.2-7.6)) on event-related potentials compared with normal weight children.
Conclusions: Our results indicate altered inhibitory control functions in otherwise healthy overweight/obese children, which might contribute to their excessive food consumption.