Snack Slowly: Study Suggests Leisurely Eating Contributes to Weight Loss

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Snack Slowly Study Suggests Leisurely Eating Contributes to Weight Loss Flickr Andy Rennie

Decreases in BMI were significantly associated with normal or slow eating speed, avoiding eating dinner within 2 hours before sleeping at least three times per week, avoiding snacking after dinner at least three times per week, and only occasionally or never consuming alcohol (P .001 for all).

And although absolute reductions in waist circumference-an indicator of a potentially harmful midriff bulge-were small, they were greater among the slow and normal speed eaters.

Fast eaters were also more likely to be men and to eat dinner within 2 hours of bedtime. The connection between eating speed and weight gain is said to be due to the satiety hormones, which make the body feel fuller when eating slowly compared to eating the same amount of food quickly.

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The body's metabolism slows down towards the end of the day, so eating too late means calories are not burned off. Normal eaters made up the majority at 33,455, while just 4,192 people said they were slow eaters. They were specifically questioned about their speed of eating, which was classified as slow, normal or fast.

That's the outcome of a study in the journal BMJ Open, which scrutinised the health insurance data of almost 60,000 Japanese people who were quizzed about their health and lifestyle habits over a six-year period.

A team of researchers from Japan conducted an analysis to study the impacts of eating speed on the person's status of obesity, which determined in Japan if the BMI goes higher than 25.

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Other factors that could help people lose weight, according to the data, included to stop snacking after dinner, and not to eat within two hours of going to bed. "The control of eating speed may therefore be a possible means of regulating body weight and preventing obesity, which in turn reduces the risk of developing non-communicable diseases". But he stressed that it was "highly subjective" to ask people how quickly they ate. The researchers wanted to see if eating speed and some other eating behaviours, such as snacking after dinner, affected obesity.

Skipping breakfast did not have any apparent effects. Eating quickly also causes bigger blood sugar fluctuations which can lead to insulin resistance. Past studies have found that fast-eaters are more likely to get fat, get sick with the metabolic syndrome, and be diagnosed with acid reflux. "People who speed eat, as many of us do, scarf down far more calories than they need".

The study was published online February 12 in the journal BMJ Open. If you are a quick eater, the following mindful tips around meal times can be useful: "focus on the food and not other activities such as TV or reading, eat with your less dominant hand, and try to chew each mouthful 30 times and focus on the flavours" she said.

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One of those habits was eating speed, ranked on a scale of slow, medium to fast.

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