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Slowing down while eating may help shed pounds in people with diabetes

Pearl Toh
04 Apr 2018

Eating slower was associated with reduced body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, as well as a lower risk of obesity than eating faster in people with type 2 diabetes, suggests a longitudinal observational study.

Compared with people who routinely wolfed down their food, individuals who ate at a normal or slow pace had 0.07- and 0.11-unit reductions in BMI from baseline, respectively (p<0.001 for both), after controlling for variables such as age and antidiabetic medication. [BMJ Open 2018;8:e019589]  

Normal and slow eaters were also 29 percent and 42 percent less likely to be obese, respectively than fast eaters (p<0.001).

Furthermore, people who ate at a normal or slow pace saw reductions, albeit marginal but still statistically significant, in waist circumference compared with people who routinely gobbled down their food (-0.21 and -0.41 cm, respectively; p<0.001).

“A possible reason for this association is that fast eaters may continue to eat until they feel full despite having already consumed an adequate amount of calories, and the combined effect of eating quickly and overeating may contribute to weight gain,” the researchers suggested. “In contrast, eating slowly may help to increase feelings of satiety before an excessive amount of food is ingested.” [BMJ 2008;337:a2002; J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:1186-1191]

Apart from eating speed, other lifestyle habits such as eating dinner within 2 hours before bedtime or frequent snacking after dinner were also associated with an increased BMI (p<0.001 for both). Nonetheless, no association was seen with skipping breakfast.

The longitudinal study involved 59,717 participants with type 2 diabetes in Japan who were beneficiaries of healthcare insurance claims. During healthcare check-ups in the follow-up period, participants were quizzed on lifestyle habits including eating, drinking, smoking, and sleep habits. They also underwent biochemical tests on blood glucose, liver function, and blood and urine analyses.  

“These findings indicate that weight loss can be supported through the reduction of eating speed, the cessation of eating dinner within 2 hours before sleeping, [and] the cessation of snacking after dinner,” said the researchers.

Previous studies have also shown that eating quickly is associated with insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance, they pointed out. [Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2011;94:e72-74; Prev Med 2008;46:154-159]

“Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering the associated health risks,” said the researchers.

As the study population comprised participants who were relatively health-conscious and participated in health check-ups voluntarily, the researchers advised against generalizing the findings to other less health-conscious populations. Also, the self-reported nature of lifestyle habits and eating speed may be subjected to bias.

 

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