Eating slower could help prevent obesity, researchers say

Woman eating chocolate

That's the suggestion from researchers in Japan, who studied possible links between eating habits and weight loss among almost 60,000 people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The results showed that 21.5% of the slow-eating group was obese, compared to nearly 30% of the normal-speed eaters and 45% of the fast-eating group. The results showed that slower eating speeds were linked to reductions in obesity, BMI and waist circumference.

They were also asked whether they indulge in any of the following activities three or more times a week; eating after 2 hours of going to sleep; snacking after dinner, and skipping breakfast.

The claims data included information on the dates of consultations and treatments, while the check-ups included measurements of weight and waist circumference, and the results of tests for blood chemistry, urine, and liver function.

At the start of the study, most people, 33,455, ate at a normal speed, 22,070 rushed their food, and 4,192 were slow eaters.

It is not the first time a study finds an association between eating speed and numerous health benefits. They also say that eating dinner more than 2 hours before sleeping, not snacking after dinner and always having breakfast may also help weight loss. "Changes in eating speed can affect changes in obesity, BMI and waist circumference", a research duo from Japan's Kyushu University wrote in the journal BMJ Open. 'Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering the associated health risks'. The study linked changing behaviours, including eating speed, to a lower chance of obesity and a shrinking waistline.

The participants had regular check-ups from 2008 to 2013.

Whatever the reason, it's likely you'll lower your weight if you train yourself to eat slower. While that's great news for people who spend ages eating their food, it's worrying for people who enjoy a bit of a midnight snack, at speed, while sitting in front of the TV of an evening. 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. 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 study is observational, meaning it only observes a link between eating habits and weight gain without directly proving one causes the other.

"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.

The study associated skipping breakfast with obesity and excess weight, also confirming previous studies on the importance of breakfast for people who want to lose weight.

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