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Eating slowly may actually help you lose weight

15 February 2018, 07:48 | Lucy Hill

Slow Eating May Reduce Obesity Risk, Study Says

Weight loss

They have suggested chewing every bite at least ten times, with a goal of 20 times.

New research reveals that the speed of eating also plays a factor in weight gain, as fast eaters have a higher chance of getting fat while slow eaters may lose weight.

This study could not, however, prove that eating speed causes or prevents obesity, only that it appears to be associated, the researchers noted.

"Interventions aimed at altering eating habits, such as education initiatives and program to reduce eating speed, may be useful in preventing obesity and reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases", the authors write. These adjustments are linked with lower obesity and weight (BMI), and smaller waist circumference.

From left: Obese people in Los Angeles, Mexico City and Manchester.

And while many studies have suggested that skipping breakfast could make it harder to lose weight, the research found that it wasn't as likely to impact changes in BMI as having a snack after dinner and within two hours of going to sleep.

For the study, experts analysed health insurance data from people with diabetes in Japan who had regular health check-ups between 2008 and 2013. In the USA, obesity is defined as a BMI over 30, while 25 to 30 is considered overweight.

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Leah Cahill, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax who researches eating but was not involved in the study, says the results are empowering. Participants also were asked about their lifestyle, including eating and sleep habits and alcohol and tobacco use.

During the study period, 51.9% of participants changed their eating speed from baseline; 0.29% switched from being fast eaters to slow eaters, and 0.15% changed from being slow eaters to fast eaters.

Referring to the study's methods, however, he warned that relying on the participants themselves to score whether they eat slowly or quickly was "considerably subjective" and may skew the data.

The team also noted changes in eating speed over the six years, with more than half the trial group reporting an adjustment in one direction or the other.

"In contrast, eating slowly may help to increase feelings of satiety before an excessive amount of food is ingested". Skipping breakfast was not. The researchers wanted to see if eating speed and some other eating behaviours, such as snacking after dinner, affected obesity. In addition, the researchers did not track how much the participants ate or whether they engaged in physical activity.

But, eating slowly may very well play a role in curbing obesity, said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Conn. "It takes fast eaters longer to feel full simply because they don't allow time for the gut hormones to tell the brain to stop eating".

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