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Study: Speed-eating causes weight gain in men

Michael Wäger Michael Wäger
from Michael Wäger, BSc, MSc
on 10.06.2019

“Eating fast makes you fat.” This long-held suspicion was finally confirmed by a large-scale Japanese study in early 2018. Another recent study now suggests that especially men can influence their body weight by regulating their eating speed.

Researchers at Kyushu University analyzed the eating habits of almost 60,000 Japanese diabetics. Most of the study participants (over 30,000) said that they ate their food at a normal pace. About 22,000 participants said they bolted their meals. Only about 4,000 test subjects reported being slow eaters who took time to savor their food, and an above-average proportion of this group were women. It turned out that there were significantly fewer overweight people in the slow eaters’ group than among the fast eaters or those who ate at a normal pace. In addition, the slow eaters’ waists were, on average, slightly slimmer. The researchers suspect that fast eaters “eat more than they’re hungry for”, i.e. continue to chow down after their calorie requirements have long been met and they are no longer actually hungry. The eating habits of slow eaters, on the other hand, allow them enough time to feel the satiety cues, which do not start until after 20 minutes, and so they consume fewer calories..

Eating slowly prevents obesity in men

In the spring of 2019, a study showed that eating speed does not have the same effect on the body weight of men and women. While eating slowly lowered the risk of obesity in men (BMI and waist circumference) in the same way that eating quickly increased it, this reverse conclusion did not apply to women. Although eating quickly was also linked to an overall weight gain in the female sample group, eating slowly did not reduce their risk of obesity.

Turning away from fast food and towards slow food and slow eating

Scientists view eating speed as a key to regulating body weight. According to Japanese nutritionists, high-calorie foods are not the only factor behind the number on the weight scale – changing eating habits are also having a significant effect. Family meals are becoming increasingly rare, eating quickly in front of the computer and “food to go” are on the rise. Since our attitudes towards food, eating habits and food preferences are all shaped during childhood, children should be encouraged to eat slowly, mindfully and healthily, and be allowed to leave food on their plates when they are full.

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