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Eating Slower Tied to Lower Obesity Risk in Type 2 Diabetes

15 February 2018

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.

In a study published in the BMJ Open, researchers analyzed data from nearly 60,000 people in Japan with type 2 diabetes who came in for medical appointments between 2008 and 2013.

During their health checks participants were asked about the speed they ate food, fast, normal or slow, and other food habits including whether they snacked after dinner and skipped breakfast.

The study also found that eating dinner within two hours of going to sleep and snacking after dinner might increase the odds of obesity.

Eating speed and other behavior were self-reported in the study.

The study is observational, meaning it only observes a link between eating habits and weight gain without directly proving one causes the other. An analysis of these answers compared to the BMI and waist measurements of the respondents revealed that slow eaters had a 42 percent lower chance of being obese compared to fast eaters, while people who ate at normal speed had a 29 percent lower chance. The World Health Organization (WHO) has demarcated the BMI 25 as overweight and 30 or above as obese.

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Eating more slowly may help to reduce the amount of calories we eat but because this study didn't look at calorie intake or diet, we don't know if calorie intake explains the findings.

Also, the terms "fast", "normal" and "slow" were used by the participants of this study just as a self-evaluation, without a strict definition of the eating speeds, and without timing the participants while eating.

Skipping breakfast did not have any apparent effects.

In addition, slow eaters tended to be healthier and to have a healthier lifestyle than those who ate quickly or at a normal speed.

The study showed that 21.5% of people who took their time over their meals had been diagnosed with obesity.

Changes in these eating habits were strongly associated with lower obesity and weight - Body Mass Index (BMI), and smaller waist circumference, the researchers found.

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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.

Eating slowly, eating breakfast, and not eating midnight snacks are not the only things that people need to do to lose weight though.

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.

"Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering the associated health risks", they added.

They believe that fast eaters weigh in higher than their slow counterparts as it takes around 20 minutes for the brain to receive the message is the stomach is full.

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Eating Slower Tied to Lower Obesity Risk in Type 2 Diabetes