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Child Development Research
Volume 2017, Article ID 1285320, 9 pages
Research Article

Overweight and Normal-Weight Children’s Decision-Making in a Child Variant of the Iowa Gambling Task

Developmental Psychology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Nele Lensing; ed.madstop-inu@gnisnel

Received 15 June 2017; Revised 16 September 2017; Accepted 26 October 2017; Published 16 November 2017

Academic Editor: Glenda Andrews

Copyright © 2017 Nele Lensing and Birgit Elsner. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), overweight as compared to normal-weight adults make more risky decisions resulting in immediate rewards and long-term losses. Findings regarding a potentially moderating role of gender have been inconsistent and investigations on the development of weight-group differences in decision-making during childhood are lacking. Using a 3-wave longitudinal study, we examined decision-making in a matched sample of 94 overweight and 94 normal-weight children (49% girls, aged 6–9 years at wave 1) over a 3-year period. Decision-making was measured with the Hungry Donkey Task (HDT), an age-appropriate version of the IGT, and learning within the task was examined via analysis across trial blocks. Mixed-design ANOVA revealed that more risky decisions were made by overweight as compared to normal-weight children and by girls as compared to boys. Within-task learning was evident at all three waves, moderated by weight group and gender. However, although risky decisions generally decreased across the 3-year period, weight-group and gender differences did not significantly change over the 3-year period. Our findings demonstrate that weight-group and gender differences in decision-making are already present and do not significantly change over a 3-year period in middle childhood.