Wolfing down meals may be enough to nearly double a person's
risk of being overweight, Japanese research suggests.
Osaka University scientists looked at the eating habits
of 3,000 people and reported their findings in the British
Problems in signalling systems which tell the body when
to stop eating may be partly responsible, said a UK nutrition
He said deliberately slowing down at mealtimes might impact
The latest study looked at the relationship between eating
speed, feelings of "fullness" and being overweight.
Just under half of the 3,000 volunteers told researchers
they tended to eat quickly.
Compared with those who did not eat quickly, fast-eating
men were 84% more likely to be overweight, and women were
just over twice as likely.
Those, who, in addition to wolfing down their meals, tended
to eat until they felt full, were more than three times more
likely to be overweight.
Professor Ian McDonald, from the University of Nottingham,
said that there were a number of reasons why eating fast could
be bad for your weight.
He said it could interfere with a signalling system which
tells your brain to stop eating because your stomach is swelling
He said: "If you eat quickly you basically fill your stomach
before your gastric feedback has a chance to start developing
- you can overfill the thing."
He said that rushing meals was a behaviour that might have
been learned in infancy, and could be reversed, although this
might not be easy.
"The old wives' tale about chewing everything 20 times might
be true - if you did take a bit more time eating, it could
have an impact."
In an accompanying editorial, Australian researchers Dr
Elizabeth Denney-Wilson and Dr Karen Campbell, said that a
mechanism that helps make us fat today may, until relatively
recently, have been an evolutionary advantage, helping us
grab more food when resources were scarce.
They said that, if possible, children should be encouraged
to eat slowly, and allowed to stop when they felt full up
Dr Jason Halford, Director of the Kissileff Human Ingestive
Behaviour Laboratory at the University of Liverpool, said
that the way we eat was slowly being seen as a key area in
obesity research, especially since the publication of studies
highlighting a genetic variant linked to "feelings of fullness".
His own work, recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology,
found that anti-obesity drug sibutramine worked by slowing
down the rate at which obese patients ate.
He said: "What the Japanese research shows is that individual
differences in eating behaviour underlie over-consumption
of food and are linked to obesity.
"Other research has found evidence of this in childhood,
suggesting that it could be inherited or learned at a very
He said that there was no evidence yet that trying to slow
down mealtimes for children would have an impact on future