The research analysed just under 60,000 Japanese people with diabetes who had frequent health check-ups between 2008 and 2013.
During their health checks participants were asked about the speed they ate food, fast, normal or slow, and other food habits including whether they snacked after dinner and skipped breakfast.
The results reveal that 21.5% of the slow-eating group was obese, compared to nearly 30% of the normal-speed group and 45% of the fast-eating group. During the six-year study, the team noticed that changes in eating speed either resulted in increases or decreases in obesity and BMI.
What's more, researchers also found eating evening meals at least two hours before going to bed three times a week cut the risk of being overweight by 10 per cent.
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"Changes in eating habits can affect obesity, BMI, and waist circumference". The primary exposure of interest was eating speed.
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.
For Susan Jeb, Professor of Dietetics at Oxford, "the problem that remains" is how to effectively instill the habit of eating slowly. The Guardian highlighted the limitations of the study, including the small numbers who actually changed eating speed.
Slow eaters, however, become aware of feeling full before they've consumed too much. Obesity is defined as 25 or more BMI points. 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. It is worth noting that in Japan a BMI of 25 or over is considered obese, whereas in the United Kingdom 25 to 29 is overweight and only 30 and above is considered obese. One person might describe themselves as a slow eater, but eat at a speed that seems fast to someone else. This is possibly because it may take longer for fast eaters to feel full, whereas this might happen more quickly for slow eaters, helping to curb their calorie intake, the researchers suggested.
Simon Cork-Imperial College of London while commenting on the research said the research confirms what we already believe in that eating slowly leads to less weight gain in comparison to eating at a quicker pace.
But most importantly, those who slowed down while they ate tended to lose weight, according to researchers.
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