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Eating Slowly Could Reduce Calorie Intake

Update Date: Dec 30, 2013 11:52 AM EST

Despite anti-obesity initiatives and programs, the obesity epidemic is still at large. Obesity is caused by a lack of physical activity and poor eating habits. Studies that were centered on eating habits have tied obesity to the speed in which people ate. These studies found that people who ate fast and had a high eating rate might be impairing how their sensory signals process the amount of food they eat. This could lead to poor regulation of energy intake and food consumption, resulting in obesity. In a new study, researchers examined the relationship between eating speed and calorie consumption and concluded that eating slowly could be more beneficial.

For this study, the researchers from the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University recruited two groups of people in order to measure eating speed and calorie consumption. The first group of people consisted of people with normal weights whereas the second group of people included people who were overweight or obese. All of the subjected were placed in controlled environments when they were instructed to eat two meals. The researchers instructed the participants to eat the first meal slowly by taking small bits, chewing, and pausing before taking another spoonful of food. For the second meal, the participants were told that they had a time constraint and were advised to take larger bites, to chew faster, and to avoid pausing in between scoops of food.

"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. A lack of statistical significance in the overweight and obese group may be partly due to the fact that they consumed less food during both eating conditions compared to the normal-weight subjects," explained lead author Meena Shah, PhD, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University reported by Medical Xpress. "It is possible that the overweight and obese subjects felt more self-conscious, and thus ate less during the study."

The researchers found that the normal weight participants ended up consuming 88 kcal less during the slow meal in comparison to the faster meal. The overweight or obese subjects consumed around 58 kcal less when they ate slower. Aside from this small difference in calorie consumption, the researchers found that people in both groups felt less hungry after they ate their meals slowly as opposed to quickly. In addition, participants from both groups drank more water during the slow meal.

"Water consumption was higher during the slow compared to the fast eating condition by 27% in the normal weight and 33% in the overweight or obese group. The higher water intake during the slow eating condition probably caused stomach distention and may have affected food consumption," added Dr. Shah.

The study, "Slower Eating Speed Lowers Energy Intake in Normal-Weight but Not Overweight/Obese Subjects," was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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