Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Eating slower could help prevent obesity, researchers say

Eating slower could help prevent obesity, researchers say

Just over half of participants changed their eating speed over the course of the study.

Cutting out after-dinner snacks and avoiding late meals are also linked to people shedding the pounds, researchers found. In the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, obesity was defined as having a BMI score of over 25 - in the United Kingdom people are deemed to be overweight with a BMI score of over 25 and obese if they have a score of over 30.

The findings were based on health insurance data for almost 60,000 people with diabetes in Japan who submitted claims and had regular health check-ups between 2008 and 2013. Participants agreed to answer questions on their diets, lifestyle choices, snack habits, frequency of breakfast in a week, and eating speed. Therefore fast eaters would have gobbled down their food well after they have had enough. More than 33,400 said they ate at "normal" speed.

Further analysis found that slower eating speed, no sleep loss, not skipping breakfast regularly and not regularly eating dinner just before bed were all associated with a lower chance of obesity.

The results indicated that the slow-eating group of four thousand one hundred and ninety-two had a smaller on an average waist circumference, a mean BMI of 22.3 and lesser obese individuals which makes 21.5 % of the total.

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This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which eating speed was based on subjective assessment, nor did the researchers assess energy intake or physical activity levels, both of which may have been influential. This is possibly because it may take longer for fast eaters to feel full, whereas this might happen more quickly for slow eaters, helping to curb their calorie intake, the researchers suggest.

They believe that fast eaters weigh in higher than their slow counterparts as it takes around 20 minutes for the brain to receive the message is the stomach is full. "Those who naturally eat slowly may be attending to their body's cues for fullness, and eat a more appropriate portion during each eating occasion", Nina Crowley, Ph.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist and health psychologist working at the Medical University of SC, told CBS News. Among this population, obesity was defined as BMI of at least 25 kg/m. The World Health Organization (WHO) has demarcated the BMI 25 as overweight and 30 or above as obese.

Changes in these eating habits were strongly associated with lower obesity and weight - Body Mass Index (BMI), and smaller waist circumference, the researchers found.

"Interventions aimed at altering eating habits, such as education initiatives and programmes to reduce eating speed, may be useful in preventing obesity and reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases", the authors conclude.
"In contrast, eating slowly may help to increase feelings of satiety before an excessive amount of food is ingested".

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