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Eating slowly may encourage weight loss in type 2 diabetes with obesity

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February 13, 2018

Adults with type 2 diabetes who reported “fast” eating speeds had a higher risk for obesity than those who reported eating at “normal” or “slow” speeds, study data show.

Further, switching from a fast to a slow eating pace could help decrease BMI, according to the researchers.

Haruhisa Fukuda, PhD, MPH, and Yumi Hurst, both from the department of health care administration and management at Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Japan, evaluated patient-level information collected between 2008 and 2013 from commercially available insurance claims data and health checkup data on 59,717 Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes to determine effects of changes in eating speed and other lifestyle habits on obesity over 6 years. Among this population, obesity was defined as BMI of at least 25 kg/m2.

The Standard Health Check-up and Counselling Guidance Programme was used as a questionnaire to determine participants’ eating speed and lifestyle habits.

Participants were divided into three categories based on eating speed: fast (n = 22,070; 27.3% women; mean age, 46.6 years; 44.8% with obesity); normal (n = 33,455; 36.5% women; mean age, 48.1 years; 29.6% with obesity); or slow (n = 4,192; 44.4% women; mean age, 46.5 years; 21.5% with obesity).

Stomach with measuring tape
Adults with type 2 diabetes who reported “fast” eating speeds had a higher risk for obesity than those who reported eating at “normal” or “slow” speeds.

During the study period, 51.9% of participants changed their eating speed from baseline; 0.29% switched from being fast eaters to slow eaters, and 0.15% changed from being slow eaters to fast eaters. Compared with the fast eaters, the slow eaters and normal eaters had lower odds for obesity (P < .001 for both). Participants who reported adequate sleep also had lower odds for obesity compared with those who reported inadequate sleep (P = .007). Decreases in BMI were significantly associated with normal or slow eating speed, avoiding eating dinner within 2 hours before sleeping at least three times per week, avoiding snacking after dinner at least three times per week, and only occasionally or never consuming alcohol (P < .001 for all).

“Changes in eating habits can affect obesity, BMI and waist circumference,” the researchers wrote. “Interventions aimed at altering eating habits, such as education initiatives and programs to reduce eating speeds, may be useful in preventing obesity and reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

itj+ Perspective

Susan Weiner

As a registered dietitian-nutritionist and certified diabetes educator in private practice for over 25 years, I do find that eating too quickly may influence one’s ability to enjoy and savor food, which in turn may lead to eating more than the intended amount of food. Mindful eating (including being present in the moment during meals without too many external distractions, such as texting while eating), allows us to savor the flavor of what we are eating. Eating slowly, and chewing our food, allows us to actually taste what we are eating, and feel our satiety. That process may naturally allow us to eat a little less, because the taste and smell and feel of food, which we can experience when we eat slower, will reduce “mindless” eating and excessive portions. Eating slowly and feeling fullness and satiety may also reduce excessive snacking after meals. This is a pleasant experience and can lead to improved lifestyle habits.

Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDE, CDN

Endocrine Today Editorial Board Member
Susan Weiner Nutrition, PLLC

Disclosure: Weiner reports she is a clinical adviser to Livongo Health.