Obesity, satiety and speed-eating

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When I was growing up my parents owned a small hotel by the seaside and I was required to do the waitressing. I quite liked the job (which earned me tips and pocket money!) but it meant that I had to fit my own eating into a very small window – either in the five minutes before the guests ate, when the food had just been plated up, or (worse still!) in the couple of minutes or so between serving them and retrieving their empty plates. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this speed eating was laying the foundation for a  four decades struggle with obesity.

This month new research demonstrates a link between obesity, satiation and speed eating. It’s a bit of an eye-opener, so read on…..

The number of people in the world who are obese has doubled since 1980. Attempts to halt the progress of this pandemic are reliant on more accurate knowledge of how obesity occurs. This is what a research group led by Christoph Beglinger at the University Hospital in Basel aimed to find out by comparing feelings of satiation among people of normal weight and those who are obese. In their study, the researchers conclude that obese people eat faster. The obese take less time to feel full than people of normal weight, and although they spend less time eating, they consume more calories.

Time to satiation
Christoph Beglinger and his team asked twenty people of normal weight and twenty people who were obese to consume a nutritional drink in the morning, on an empty stomach. The test subjects were allowed to drink as much as they wanted, and as quickly as they wanted. Every three minutes they were required to indicate how full they felt. On average, the obese people reported feeling full after just ten minutes, four minutes earlier than those of normal weight. However, during this ten minute period they consumed on average approximately 85 kcal per minute, compared with around 50 kcal per minute consumed by the test subjects of normal weight. Therefore, despite the shorter period of consumption, obese people consumed around 140 kcal more before they felt full.
Eat slowly
“Eating even just 100 kcal a day more than the recommended amount can cause weight gain,” write the researchers in their study. “For this reason, the speed of eating is a potential contributing factor in obesity.” Although making changes to people’s eating habits is difficult, the new results indicate that treatments focussing on such approaches are correct. “Eating slowly is not only healthy, but it should also help you lose weight,” explains Beglinger.
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Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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