Eating slowly could be the key to you losing weight

Weight loss

The latest study is not the first to suggest that taking a sedate pace at the dinner table could be beneficial: various pieces of work have hinted that those who eat quickly are more likely to be overweight, have acid reflux and have metabolic syndrome. The results suggested that the slow-eaters tended to be healthier and to have a healthier lifestyle than either the fast or normal speed eaters. And when compared with fast eaters, normal-speed eaters and slow eaters had reductions in waist circumference of 0.21cm and 0.41cm respectively, the authors found.

Their weight was then assessed from their BMI (body mass index) and their waist circumference.

Participants were divided into three categories based on eating speed: fast (n = 22,070; 27.3% women; mean age, 46.6 years; 44.8% with obesity); normal (n = 33,455; 36.5% women; mean age, 48.1 years; 29.6% with obesity); or slow (n = 4,192; 44.4% women; mean age, 46.5 years; 21.5% with obesity).

In the study, obesity was defined as having a BMI score over 25 - in Ireland, people are deemed to be overweight with a BMI score over 25 and obese with a score over 30.

The check-ups involved in the study also asked respondents whether they regularly skipped eating breakfast, and if they usually ate snacks between dinner and going to bed.

But skipping breakfast does nothing to decrease weight. 'Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering the associated health risks'. The Guardian highlighted the limitations of the study, including the small numbers who actually changed eating speed. Waist circumference was found to be directly proportional to eating speed as well.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal BMJ Open, said they set out to analyze "the effects of changes in lifestyle habits on changes in obesity".

Researchers analysed Japanese health insurance and check-up data collected between 2008 and 2013. These people were asked about their eating habits and were made to categorize the speed at which they consumed food.

As per study results if the food is eaten slowly by pausing between bites and chewing slowly could lead to weight loss.

Physicians working in diabetes and weight management already recommend slower eating speed to limit portion size. By eating too fast, people may not give this intricate hormonal system the needed time to tell the brain that the stomach is full. "The speed at which a lot of people wolf down their food is undeniably a contributor to obesity", he said (via The Guardian).

When people eat too fast, hormones in the gut that relay the "I'm full" signal to the brain aren't given enough time to work. Katarina Kos, Obesity Specialist at Exeter Medical University, said that it would be interesting to conduct the study on a larger population, not necessarily on people suffering from diabetes, to check whether the weight loss found in the Japanese study corresponded to treatment for this disease.

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