Compared to fast eaters, the odds ratio for being obese was 0.58 for slow eaters and 0.71 for normal-speed eaters. 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.
Participants were asked about the speed at which they ate food - fast, normal or slow - as well as about other diet habits, including eating dinner within two hours of going to sleep, after-dinner snacking, and skipping breakfast.
At regular checkups over six years, clinicians measured their weight and waist circumference and tested their blood, urine and liver function. In the study, obesity was defined as having a BMI score of over 25 - in the United Kingdom (UK) people are deemed to be overweight with a BMI score of over 25 and obese if they have a score of over 30.
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Other factors that could assist in losing weight, as per the data, includes not eating within two hours of going to bed and no snacking after dinner. But skipping breakfast wasn't.
"It is certainly not appropriate to extrapolate from these observations to conclude about eating speed and the development of obesity - however attractive the idea that fast eaters are likely to eat more, and that eating more leads to weight gain", he said. A study in the BMJ Open suggests that the key is in eating slower to lose weight.
"Interventions aimed at altering eating habits, such as education initiatives and program to reduce eating speed, may be useful in preventing obesity and reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases", the authors write.
Some experts believe when people eat faster there's less time for the "I'm full" signal to reach the brain, increasing the risk of overeating.
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They continue that "eating slowly may help to increase feelings of satiety before an excessive amount of food is ingested" - that is, it gives your body time to register that you've eaten something.
Jebb said that while there's little definitive proof that slowing your eating speed has a direct impact on your weight, it's unlikely to hurt. "It's an interesting study, [which] confirms what we already think, that eating slowly is causing less weight gain than eating quickly", said Simon Cork, from Imperial College London. 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. "The quicker you eat, the less time the signals have to get to your brain".
"In particular, workers who snatch their lunch at the desk are doing their health no favours".
'They should stop what they're doing, switch off their phones and emails and preferably take a half hour away from the office altogether'.
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