That's the suggestion from researchers in Japan, who studied possible links between eating habits and weight loss among almost 60,000 people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. 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).
Researchers say those who ate fast kept eating after they were full but didn't realize it.
Their weight was also assessed using their body mass index (BMI) score and their waist circumference was measured.
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At the start, more than half of the people said to eat at a "normal" speed while a third admitted to being "fast" eaters and the rest self-identified as "slow" eaters.
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The team also noticed the adjustment in the eating speed over the timeframe of six years.
People who ate at a normal speed were around 29% less likely to be obese than a fast eater.
The results indicated that the slow-eating group of four thousand one hundred and ninety-two had a smaller on an average waist circumference, a mean BMI of 22.3 and lesser obese individuals which makes 21.5 % of the total.
A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal reported that nearly a third of Irish children are now overweight and the country ranks 58th out of 200 countries for its proportion of overweight youths.
Further analysis of the results found that slower eating speed, no sleep loss, not skipping breakfast regularly and not regularly eating dinner just before bed were all associated with a lower chance of obesity.
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"Changes in eating speed can affect changes in obesity, BMI and waist circumference", researchers from Japan's Kyushu University recently wrote in the report. Interventions and education initiatives aimed at altering eating habits "may be useful in preventing obesity and reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases", they concluded.
The research analysed just under 60,000 Japanese people with diabetes who had frequent health check-ups between 2008 and 2013.
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'Eating quickly also causes bigger blood sugar fluctuations which can lead to insulin resistance.
Limitations of the study included that eating speed and other behaviours were self-reported. According to him, "it is probably due to the signals sent by the digestive system that communicates to the brain that we are satiated in time to limit the amount ingested". We don't know whether people would lose weight if told to eat more slowly, or how easy it is to change eating speed.
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When people eat too fast, hormones in the gut that relay the "I'm full" signal to the brain aren't given enough time to work. 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.