Eat Slow, Stay Thin? Eating Speed May Impact Weight Loss, Study Shows

Why eating quickly could accelerate weight gain

Those who eat slower tend to lose weight faster, according to a Japanese study published on February 12, 2018 in the journal "BMJ Open". Decreases in BMI were significantly associated with normal or slow eating speed, avoiding eating dinner within 2 hours before sleeping at least three times per week, avoiding snacking after dinner at least three times per week, and only occasionally or never consuming alcohol (P .001 for all). A possible reason? Fast eaters may continue to eat even after they are full, even when their bodies have an adequate amount of calories, since the brain takes a little time to interpret chemical signals from the stomach that say "enough".

The World Health Organization considers those with a body mass index (BMI), a body mass-to-height ratio, of 25 to be overweight and those with a BMI of 30 or higher to be obese. At the end of the study, researchers finalized the direct links between eating speed and the increased chances of obesity.

At the start of the study, some 22,070 people routinely wolfed down their food; 33,455 ate at a normal speed and 4,192 lingered over every mouthful. Around half of the total sample (just under 52 per cent) changed their eating speed over the course of the six years.

Upon their first checkups, the researchers found the small minority that ate slowly tended to show healthier lifestyles than those who ate fast or at normal speeds. But skipping breakfast wasn't.

"Changes in eating speed can affect changes in obesity, BMI and waist circumference. Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering health risks".

The researchers analyzed health insurance data from nearly 60,000 Japanese people diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a condition that affects the way the body processes glucose.

"Eat slowly" sounds simple, but that doesn't mean it's straightforward: Susan Jebb, an Oxford University professor of diet and population health, believes "the outstanding challenge" is figuring out ways to put the advice into practice.

It was an observational study, rather than a study where participants are getting assigned in random groups and requested to eat at different rates.

But he said that relying on the participants themselves to score whether they eat slowly, or fast, was "considerably subjective" and may skew the data.

"It is certainly not appropriate to extrapolate from these observations to conclude about eating speed and the development of obesity - however attractive the idea that fast eaters are likely to eat more, and that eating more leads to weight gain", he said. Researchers suggested it might prevent weight loss because it takes longer for fast eaters to feel full.

Katarina Kos-an obesity researcher-Exeter Medical School said that similar research needs to be conducted in non-diabetic people for learning the potential of the diabetes medication in weight loss or gain.

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