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Eating Smaller Bites Can
Prevent Ice Cream Headache

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - To avoid an ice cream headache, savor the flavor, say Canadian researchers.

The recommendations for pacing ice cream consumption are based on a middle school science project whose lead investigator is only 13 years old. Maya Kaczorowski set out to determine if devouring ice cream quickly was more likely to induce headache than taking small bites.

"It was her idea to do it, I just helped her with how to test her hypothesis," said Maya's father, Dr. Janusz Kaczorowski, associate professor with the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. The results of the study are published in the December issue of the British Medical Journal.

The subjects for Maya's experiment were 145 students from Dalewood Middle School in Hamilton, Canada. Half of the kids were instructed to eat about two scoops of vanilla ice cream so that some was still left in the bowl after 30 seconds. The other students were told to eat all of their ice cream in less than 5 seconds. Then all kids were asked to report whether or not they developed a headache.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Kaczorowski said, "A lot of parents tell their kids to eat ice cream slowly, but of course Maya was always resisting this idea."

As was expected, the kids who ate their ice cream faster were more likely to develop a headache than the students who took smaller bites. Twenty-seven percent of the "accelerated eating" group got headaches, compared with 13% of those in the "cautious eating" group. "Of the 29 headaches reported, 17 lasted for less than 10 seconds," the report indicates.

Maya conducted her experiment during the summer and repeated it during the winter, and found the incidence of headache was not affected by colder weather. Kaczorowski said people develop an ice cream headache when the cold substance touches the roof of their mouth, and when they eat more slowly the likelihood of this happening is decreased.

While there are lots of home remedies to reduce ice cream headache, such as washing it down with a warm drink, Kaczorowski said the best advice is just to eat slowly.

While Maya was in school during the interview, and therefore unavailable for comment, her father said she received an 'A' for her science project. The budding scientist recommends future studies on other flavors of ice cream.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal 2002;325:1445-1446.


Reference Source 89

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