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Eat slower for a smaller waistline, researchers say

unhealthy lunch
Photo: mediaphotos/iStockphoto

Fukuoka, Japan — Does your busy schedule mean you often grab a quick meal before heading off to the next meeting or activity? New research shows that eating more slowly – and not snacking after dinner – may help you lose weight.

To determine the effects of lifestyle habits on body mass index and obesity, researchers at the Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences analyzed data from health checkups and insurance claims of nearly 60,000 Japanese people with Type 2 diabetes. During the checkups, patients answered questions about the speed at which they eat, and when.

At the start of the study, 22,070 participants reported eating quickly, 33,455 described their eating speed as normal and 4,192 said they took their time. Of these groups, slower eaters had a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference, and the lowest percentage of people who were obese. Faster eaters recorded the highest numbers in all those categories.

The researchers concluded that eating more slowly, not eating dinner within two hours before sleeping and not snacking after dinner are linked to reductions in BMI.

The researchers also noted that people who eat quickly may keep eating until they feel full despite reaching an adequate amount of calories. This combination of eating quickly and overeating could contribute to weight gain. Excess weight and obesity can trigger diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, studies have shown, while regulating body weight can help lower the risks.

The study was published online Feb. 12 in the journal BMJ Open.

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