And although absolute reductions in waist circumference-an indicator of a potentially harmful midriff bulge-were small, they were greater among the slow and normal speed eaters.
That's the outcome of a study in the journal BMJ Open, which scrutinised the health insurance data of almost 60,000 Japanese people who were quizzed about their health and lifestyle habits over a six-year period. 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, more than half of the people said they ate at a normal speed, while about a third said they tended to eat fast. The study indicates that the eating speed is also an important factor affecting on the weight of a person. Skipping breakfast, on the other hand, did not seem to have any effect on BMI and weight.
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However, the authors said that controlling eating speed may be a means of regulating body weight and helping to prevent obesity.
Few people in the study changed from fast to slow eating, so the proposed benefits from eating slowly are only theoretical. These participants were grouped into these three groups depending on their own analysis of their eating speed.
People looking to shrink their waistlines may want to adopt three simple eating habits to help them get there, new research suggests.
"My advice is slow down, chew your food thoroughly and wait before you go in for seconds until your body processes the food it has eaten". The subjectivity of the answers is one of the study's limitations.
"In contrast, eating slowly may help to increase feelings of satiety before an excessive amount of food is ingested". Katarina Kos, Obesity Specialist at Exeter Medical University, said that it would be interesting to conduct the study on a larger population, not necessarily on people suffering from diabetes, to check whether the weight loss found in the Japanese study corresponded to treatment for this disease. We don't know whether people would lose weight if told to eat more slowly, or how easy it is to change eating speed. "Our model revealed that consistently eating breakfast can reduce obesity, which also corroborates the findings of previous studies". Fast eaters may also continue to scarf down food even after they've consumed adequate calories, the study authors write in their paper, whereas slow eaters might feel full on less food overall.