How you eat is as important as what you eat, with slower diners far less likely to be obese than those who wolf down their food, a study suggests.
Researchers analysing data on nearly 60,000 people found that slow eaters were 42 per cent less likely to be overweight or obese than fast eaters, while those who ate at a normal speed had a 29 per cent lower risk.
Experts said that people who ate quickly did not allow time for the brain to read cues from the gut that it was no longer empty. They have suggested chewing every bite at least ten times, with a goal of 20 times. Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Eating more slowly means we tend to feel satiated for longer and gives more time for the hormones to signal ‘stop eating’. In particular, workers who snatch their lunch at the desk are doing their health no favours. They should stop what they’re doing, switch off their phones and emails and preferably take a half hour away from the office altogether.”
The study by Kyushu University in Japan is based on health insurance data for 59,717 Japanese men and women who had type 2 diabetes diagnosed and had regular health check-ups between 2008 and 2013. The authors said that their findings would support “interventions aimed at reducing eating speed” to prevent obesity and lower the associated health risks.
In the UK, 63 per cent of adults are overweight and 27 per cent of those are obese. The research, published in the BMJ Open online journal, relied on patients’ own assessments of eating speed. Slow eaters tended to be healthier and have a healthier lifestyle than fast eaters. They also had slightly smaller waists.
HOW TO SLOW DOWN
A 2013 study compared consumption of a group volunteers over two meals – one of which they were told to eat imagining they were in a rush, and the other of which they were told to imagine they had no time constraints. When they ate slowly, people drank around 12oz (350ml) of water, compared to 9oz when eating fast.
Chew your food more
Studies have shown this cuts the number of calories consumed. According to Dr Joanna Dolgoff, author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right!, “One of the major reasons for eating too fast is not chewing long enough. To slow down your eating, chew every bite a minimum of 10 times — but shoot for 20.”
Aim for your meal to last at least 20 minutes
It is thought the body takes around 20 minutes to register that it is full – so taking less time over your meal does not give the brain chance to read hunger cues properly.
Pick foods that take some effort to eat
A 2011 study found that people offered pistachios with shells on as a snack consumed 41 per cent fewer calories than those offered the nuts already shelled – but there was no significant difference in how they rated fullness or satisfaction.
Published in The Times