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Try eating slower to avoid getting fat

Harold Mandel's picture
Eating Slower

There is a literal epidemic of obesity across the United States and worldwide which is stealing the health and lives of a lot of people. Daily new reports hit the press about the vital importance of eating low fat foods and exercising to avoid obesity, and yet we see more overweight and obese people around us all of the time. Advice which will be taken seriously and which is safe to help people fight obesity is needed more now than ever.

Eating slowly decreases energy intake in normal weight people but not in overweight and obese subjects, reports the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The actual effect of eating speed on energy intake by weight status has not been clear. Researchers decided to investigate whether the effect of eating speed on energy intake is the same in normal weight and overweight and obese subjects.

It was observed that meal energy intake was markedly lower in the normal weight but not the overweight and obese subjects during slow versus fast eating conditions. Each group of subjects had lower meal energy density and eating rate during the slow versus the fast eating conditions. Each of the groups reported less hunger and the normal weight subjects reported more fullness 60 minutes after the meal began during the slow compared with the fast eating conditions.

It was concluded eating slowly significantly lowered meal energy intake in the normal weight but not in the overweight and obese group. Furthermore, eating slowly lowered eating rate and energy density in both groups. There were lower hunger ratings in both groups and increased fullness ratings in the normal weight group at 60 minutes after the meal began. What all of this means is that eating slower is overall best.

The rates of obesity in the United States have increased from 14.5 percent of the population in 1971-1974 to 35.9 percent of the population in 2009-2010, according to a review of this research provided by Elsevier. Baby boomers are being hit with increasing rates of obesity, as I have reported on in a separate article for EmaxHealth.

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Researchers think one of the primary contributing factors to the obesity epidemic is the reported increase in energy intake. It has been suggested by research that the ability to control energy intake may be affected by the speed at which we eat our food. It appears a fast eating rate may impair the relationship which exists between the sensory signals and processes which regulate how much we eat.

With an interest in better understanding the relationship which exists between eating speed and energy intake, researchers in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University studied how eating speed affects calories which are consumed during a meal in both normal weight subjects as well as overweight or obese subjects. Although previous studies have investigated the relationship which exists between eating speed and body weight, most of those studies were conducted with normal weight people. For this new study the researchers asked a group of normal weight subjects and a group of overweight or obese subjects to consume two meals, one at a slow speed and one at a fast speed, in a controlled environment.

Lead author Meena Shah, PhD, has said, “Slowing the speed of eating led to a significant reduction in energy intake in the normal-weight group, but not in the overweight or obese group." Nevertheless, the researchers found some significant similarities between both groups. Each of the groups felt less hungry later on after they ate the slow meal than after the fast meal. In each group ratings of hunger were significantly lower at 60 minutes after the meal began during the slow compared to the fast eating condition. It was therefore indicated that greater hunger suppression among both groups could be anticipated from a meal that is eaten more slowly.

It was also observed that both the normal weight and overweight or obese groups drank a greater amount of water during the slow meal. The increased water consumption during the slow eating condition probably caused stomach distention and may have also affected food consumption. Looking at all of this together, Dr. Shah has suggested, “Slowing the speed of eating may help to lower energy intake and suppress hunger levels and may even enhance the enjoyment of a meal.”

It has been my observation that people are growing more concerned about the obesity epidemic. However, losing weight and staying thin have always been very difficult tasks. People are often so desperate to lose weight and stay thin for both their image and their health that they are often searching for miracle weight loss remedies.

Although there are diets and supplements which can help with weight loss, simply eating slower may be an easier path to weight control for a lot of people. So, I suggest eating slower and enjoying your meals more for everyone. Dr. Oz also offers some good suggestions for weight loss, reports EmaxHealth reporter Tim Boyer, PhD.