I don’t know about you, but I often find myself scarfing down my brown bag desk lunches before it’s time to go to my next meeting. I didn’t give it much thought until I read about a recent study that links obesity to eating speed. The benefits of eating slowly aren’t just about enjoying the moment–they can actually change your life!
What They Found
Preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2017 suggests that people who eat more slowly are less likely to become obese or develop metabolic syndrome. This syndrome describes a litany of conditions, including excess body fat around the waist, increased blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels. When these symptoms occur together, they can increase your risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
By the Numbers
The study was led by Hiroshima University cardiologist Dr. Takayuki Yamaji, who recruited 1,000 healthy adults to participate in the five-year trial. Researchers categorized the 642 men and 441 women into three groups: those who ate slowly, normal, or quickly. Five years later, after carefully tracking changes in their health, researchers found that 11.6 percent of the fast eaters developed metabolic syndrome, compared to just 6.5 percent of normal eaters. The slow eaters? Only 2.3 percent of them developed metabolic syndrome over the course of the trial. Faster eating was also associated with more weight gain, higher blood glucose and a larger waistline.
What it Means
Are we surprised by the findings? Maybe not. Scientists have known for a while that feeling satisfied after a meal isn’t all about having a full stomach. It’s actually has more to do with the brain than the stomach at all! As the body digests food, it sends signals from digestive hormones to the brain. These signals tell you that you’re full, so slow eaters are more likely to receive the signals before they’ve had a chance to overeat. Those who eat more quickly tend to overeat before their brains have received the signals.
Slowing down, chewing your food and becoming more aware of your body may lead to decreased risk of obesity, but it can also lead to increased enjoyment of your meal. So slow down, take a moment, and really enjoy those home-cooked meals just like mom used to make.