Bolting your food increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, research suggests.
People who eat very quickly do not give their bodies time to realise it is full – meaning they tend to eat more.
Eating slowly, savouring every mouthful and taking time over a meal is better for overall health.
A study of more than 1,000 middle-aged people found those who ate quickly were five-and-a-half times more likely than slow eaters to go on to develop metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions including obesity and high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
Dr Takayuki Yamaji, a cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan, said: ‘Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome.’
People who eat very quickly do not give their bodies time to realise it is full – meaning they tend to eat more, scientists found
Over the five-year study period his researchers found 11.6 per cent of the quick eaters developed the syndrome.
This compared to 6.5 per cent of those who ate at a normal speed – and a mere 2.3 per cent of those who ate slowly.
Faster eating speed was linked with more weight gain, higher blood glucose and an expanding waistline.
Dr Yamaji told a meeting of the American Heart Association in California fast eating could fuel over-eating.
Metabolic syndrome occurs when someone has any of three risk factors linked to diabetes and heart disease.
These include abdominal obesity, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
How was the study carried out?
Dr Yamaji and colleagues evaluated 642 men and 441 women whose average age was 51 at the start of the study in 2008.
The participants, who were all healthy at the start of the study, were each asked to describe their usual eating speed as slow, normal or fast and divided into these three groups.
EAT SLOWLY TO LOSE WEIGHT, STUDY FINDS
Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow swear by it – and in December researchers proved that chewing food properly does help us eat less at the dinner table.
A study has found that eating slowly and having smaller bites makes us feel less hungry an hour afterwards than if we wolf down food.
People who ate slowly also drank more, which helped them feel fuller, the researchers said.
Researchers from Texas Christian University explored the relationship between eating speed and calorie intake by looking at how eating speed affects calories consumed during a meal.
They also questioned the volunteers on their feelings of hunger and fullness before and after the fast-paced and slow-paced meals and how much water they drank during each of them.
They were then re-examined in 2013.
Dr Yamaji said: ‘When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat.
‘Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation which can lead to insulin resistance.’
He said metabolic syndrome – or ‘mets’ – is one of the causes of cardiovascular diseases and several studies have linked eating speed to weight gain.
Limited information on eating speeds
But Dr Yamaji said: ‘Limited information, however, is available concerning the relation between eating speed and the risk of prevalence of mets.
‘We divided the participants into three eating-speed categories as follows – slow, normal and fast.’
Information on lifestyle factors such as dietary behaviours and physical activity – as well as medical history – were obtained by a self-administered questionnaire at the outset.
During the five-year follow-up a total of 84 were diagnosed with mets.
Dr Yamaji said: ‘The incidence rates among slow, normal and fast-eating participants were 2.3, 6.5 and 11.6 per cent, respectively.’
A previous study, by experts at North Carolina State University, found ‘mindful eating’ – savouring every mouthful, concentrating on flavour and ‘eating with purpose’ – helped people lose six times as much weight as other slimmers.
The researchers behind that project encouraged people to remove all distractions while eating, including turning off the television at dinner time and not eating lunch at their desk.
They found overweight people who followed the ‘mindful eating’ mantra lost four and a half pounds (1.9kg) in 15 weeks, compared to other slimmers who just lost just two thirds of a pound (0.3kg).
Impressively, six months after the trial stopped three quarters of participants in the mindfulness programme had kept their weight off or lost even more.