Want to lose weight? Try eating slowly, suggests study

Losing weight is not an easy feat to accomplish, even when you have set a specific target. It requires hard work, discipline, dedication, immense will-power, and self-control.

Want to lose weight? Try eating slowly, suggests study
(Representational image)

New Delhi: Those who wolf down their food instead of chewing it properly are at a risk of gaining weight, a study has said.

Instead, taking the time to chew your food and pausing before taking the next bite could help you shed those extra kilos.

Losing weight is not an easy feat to accomplish, even when you have set a specific target. It requires hard work, discipline, dedication, immense will-power, and self-control.

It is a slow and steady process and many people go to all sorts of lengths to achieve their desired goals like trying out all sorts of diets that suit their requirements or have been proven effective, in order to quicken the process.

A lot of people even tend to give up halfway through their journey, simply because they run out of patience.

For this research involving nearly 60,000 Japanese people, results showed a link between eating slower or faster and losing or gaining weight.

"Changes in eating speed can affect changes in obesity, BMI and waist circumference," a research duo from Japan's Kyushu University wrote in the journal BMJ Open. "Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering the associated health risks."

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, a ratio of weight-to-height used to determine whether a person falls within a healthy range. The WHO considers someone with a BMI of 25 overweight, and 30 or higher obese.

In line with recommendations by the Japanese Society for the Study of Obesity, however, a BMI of 25 was taken as obese for Japanese populations for the purposes of the study. The researchers aanalyzedhealth insurance data from 59,717 individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes – a form of the disease that generally hits in adulthood as a result of being overweight.

The participants had regular check-ups from 2008 to 2013. Data captured included their age and gender, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, eating habits, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use.

From the outset, the slow-eating group of 4,192 had a smaller average waist circumference, a mean BMI of 22.3, and fewer obese individuals – 21.5 percent of the total.

It's not a race

By comparison, more than 44 percent of the fast-eating group of 22,070 people, was obese, with a mean BMI of 25. The team also noted changes in eating speed over the six years, with more than half the trial group reporting an adjustment in one direction or the other.

"The main results indicated that decreases in eating speeds can lead to reductions in obesity and BMI," they found. 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.

Skipping breakfast did not seem to have any effect. Limitations of the study included that eating speed and other behaviors were self-reported. There was also no data on how much participants ate, or whether they exercised or not.

Commenting on the research, Simon Cork of Imperial College London said it "confirms what we already believe, that eating slowly is associated with less weight gain than eating quickly." This may be due to the fact that the satiety signal takes some time to travel from the stomach to the brain, and may arrive only after the fast eater has already consumed more than enough.

But he said that relying on the participants themselves to score whether they eat slowly, or fast, was "considerably subjective" and may skew the data. Katarina Kos, an obesity researcher from Exeter Medical School, said similar research has to be conducted in non-diabetic people to rule out a potential role for diabetes medication in weight loss or gain.

(With AFP inputs)

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