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Eating quickly can treble the risk of being overweight

Study shows speed of eating and feeling of fullness is linked to weight

OnMedica staff

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

People who eat quickly and eat until full are three times more likely to be overweight, according to a study published today on the website of the British Medical Journal.

Researchers from Osaka University in Japan studied over 3,200 men (1,122) and women (2,165) aged 30–69 between 2003 and 2006 to examine whether eating until full and speed of eating were associated with being overweight.

Until the last decade or so most adults did not have the opportunity to consume enough energy to enable fat to be stored, but this has changed with the increased availability of inexpensive food in larger portions, fast food, fewer families eating together and eating while distracted.

Professor Hiroyasu Iso, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan and colleagues, sent the study’s participants a diet history questionnaire about their eating habits including questions about eating until full and their speed of eating.

They found that around half (50.9%) of the men and just over half (58.4%) of the women said they ate until they were full. Just under half (45.6%) of men and 36% of women said they ate quickly.

The group of participants who said they ate “until full and ate quickly” had a higher body mass index (BMI) and total energy intake than those who did not “eat until full and did not eat quickly”.

Results showed that men and women in the “eating until full and eating quickly” group were three times more likely to be overweight than the participants from the “not eating until full and not eating quickly” group.

The report says: “In conclusion, eating until full and eating quickly were associated with being overweight in Japanese men and women, and the combination of the two eating
behaviours may have a substantial impact on being overweight.”

In an accompanying editorial, Elizabeth Denney-Wilson from University of NSW and Karen Campbell from Deakin University, both in Australia, said the findings demonstrated how current eating patterns may contribute to the current epidemic of obesity.

“Clinicians should recognise that behavioural counselling, using cognitive therapy, can help in the management of this aggressively “eat more” food environment,” says the editorial.
The authors call on doctors to work with parents to encourage healthy eating habits in their children like eating slowly, serving appropriate portion sizes, and eating as a family in a non-distracting environment.

BMJ 2008;337:a2002

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