Take it slow: linger over your lunch to lose weight, says study

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The study showed that 21.5% of people who took their time over their meals had been diagnosed with obesity.

According to that data, eating faster had an impact on people's weight compared to the people who ate at a normal speed. And when compared with fast eaters, normal-speed eaters and slow eaters had reductions in waist circumference of 0.21cm and 0.41cm respectively, the authors found. Next, the participants answered a set of questions about their eating speed ('fast", "normal' and "slow'), whether they had dinner within 2 hours of sleeping, but also habits concerning after-dinner snacking, skipping breakfast, alcohol consumption frequency, sleep adequacy and tobacco consumption".

The data used in the research included information on the dates of consultations and treatments, while the check-ups included measurements of weight (BMI) and waist circumference and the results of tests for blood chemistry, urine and liver function.

Researchers in Japan found that people who said they ate slowly or at normal speed were less likely to be obese at the end of a 6-year study, than those who said they ate quickly.

"What stands out to me about this study is the positive thought that eating speed is a modifiable risk factor in a world where people feel many health risk factors are beyond their control", she said in an email.

Snacking after dinner and eating within 2 hours of going to sleep 3 or more times a week were also strongly linked to changes in BMI.

Interestingly, skipping breakfast does nothing to decrease weight.

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"Interventions aimed at altering eating habits, such as education initiatives and programmes to reduce eating speed, may be useful in preventing obesity and reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases", the authors write. The study linked changing behaviours, including eating speed, to a lower chance of obesity and a shrinking waistline. Waist circumference was found to be directly proportional to eating speed as well.

The participants of the research study had regular check-ups from 2008 till 2013.

You've no doubt heard of every fad diet and extreme fitness regime out there, but health professionals have suggested that something as simple as how you eat could have just as much influence whether or not you're likely to lose or gain weight.

The study involved almost 60,000 Japanese people, and the results showed that the slow-eating group had a smaller average waist circumference, a mean body-mass index of 22.3 and fewer obese individuals.

Experts said that people who ate quickly did not allow time for the brain to read cues from the gut that it was no longer empty. "The quicker you eat, the less time the signals have to get to your brain".

'In particular, workers who snatch their lunch at the desk are doing their health no favours. "They should stop what they're doing, switch off their phones and emails and preferably take a half hour away from the office altogether".