A New Study Shows Chewing Slowly Works to Prevent Weight Gain in Children
In America’s seemingly endless quest to stomp out the obesity epidemic, a great deal of research has been conducted regarding what people eat. But a new study shows that the way people eat — children in particular — will affect their future weight gain.
According to a recent study published in the Dec. 15 issue of Pediatric Obesity, waiting 30 seconds between bites of food can help children to curb their overeating habits. By taking more time in between each bite, children are able to realize they’re full before they have the chance to overeat.
“To lose weight, you need to stop eating. But it’s not that simple for most people,” said study co-author Marcos Intaglietta, from the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego. “So we decided to investigate how effective eating slowly would be.”
The study was conducted by an international team of researchers that included bioengineers from the University of California in San Diego. Additionally, bioengineers collaborated with physicians from the National University of Mexico.
According to Dr. Ruy Perez-Tamayo, from the Laboratory of Research in Experimental Medicine in the School of Medicine at the National University of Mexico, the study’s methods focused on preventative measures, because they are “simple, inexpensive and easy to follow,” and don’t require any additional medications.
Ultimately, the study aimed to decrease the amount of food that children consumed by having them eat more slowly, ultimately allowing their stomachs’ feelings of fullness to appropriately signal a satiety reflex before overeating. Typically, that signal takes about 15 minutes to take effect.
But with more mindless eating at a faster rate, meals are consumed in much less time, researchers report.
For the study, researchers monitored the eating habits of 54 children, from ages six through 17 in Durango, Mexico, over the course of a year. They were then compared to a control group with similar demographics.
The students were divided into two groups: children who were instructed to eat slowly (compliant group) and children who did not (non-compliant group).
Results show that the weight of children in the compliant group decreased from anywhere between 3.4 and 4.8% after the course of a year. The non-compliant group, in contrast, saw a weight gain increase of 8.3 to 12.6% over the course of a year.
This research provides evidence that a slow-eating approach is both a sustainable and inexpensive method to approach obesity prevention. When combined with the recommended hour of physical activity each day, children will be better prepared to combat weight gain as they age.