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Eat slower, lose weight

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

13th February 2018 - Eating more slowly, along with not eating within 2 hours of going to sleep, and cutting out after dinner snacks, could help with weight loss, researchers say.

The findings are from a 5 year study of people in Japan with type 2 diabetes, and have been published in the journal BMJ Open.

Sophie Roberts, registered dietitian, and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA), tells us by email: "We have known for some time that eating more slowly can help us to eat less at an individual meal. Slowing down our eating can help us to lose weight provided that it is used alongside other strategies that mean we eat less overall, such as serving smaller portions and making healthier choices."


For this latest study, data from nearly 60,000 people was analysed. They had regular health check-ups between 2008 and 2013 during which they were asked about their lifestyle, and specifically about the speed they ate at, whether it was fast, normal, or slow.

At the start of the study, most people, 33,455, ate at a normal speed, 22,070 rushed their food, and 4,192 were slow eaters.

As well as eating speed, participants were also asked if on 3 or more occasions a week they ate dinner within 2 hours of going to sleep, snacked after dinner, or skipped breakfast.


The researchers found slow eaters tended to be healthier and have a healthier lifestyle than either the fast or normal speed eaters.

Compared to those who bolted their food, those who ate at a normal speed were 29% less likely to be obese, rising to 42% for those who ate slowly. Obesity within the Japanese population is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, in the UK it's a BMI of 30 or more.

Changing eating speed, cutting out after dinner snacks, and not eating within 2 hours of bedtime were all strongly associated with lower obesity and weight (BMI), and smaller waist circumference.

Eating speed

The researchers believe eating slowly may help with weight loss because it takes longer for fast eaters to feel full, whereas this might happen more quickly for slow eaters.

Sophie Roberts says: "When people eat more slowly they take in less calories at that meal. We spend more time enjoying each mouthful and so are satisfied with less and are better able to judge when we have had enough to eat. Conversely, when we eat quickly it is easy to rush past the point of ''enough' food to feeling uncomfortably full before we have even noticed what has happened."

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