Obesity Linked Metabolically to Eating Speed

Competitive 'speed eaters' devour bowls of pasta. (Reuters/Daniel Munoz)

Competitive ‘speed eaters’ devour bowls of pasta. (Reuters/Daniel Munoz)

Ever told as a kid to slow down and chew your food? There may be a good reason.

Japanese researchers have found a strong correlation between the speed at which someone consumes food and metabolism, concluding that faster eaters may contribute to the obesity epidemic. In short, faster eating could lower your metabolism and come with more than a few steep health risks.

The study took place over the course of three years. Participants included 8,941 residents of Soka City, aged 40 through 75, both with and without diagnoses of metabolic syndrome. Eating speed was measured in form of questionnaire.

Is it eating speed over ‘quantity’ or ‘quality’?

Could someone get around this just by eating higher calorie foods a lot slower? Not necessarily. A healthy balance of adequate macronutrient-diverse diets and exercise are the best ways to combat a slower metabolism. Conversely, undereating and starvation are also linked to slow metabolism. Since the brain and other tissues in the body are dependent upon glucose, the rate in which energy is consumed by the body during starvation is slowed. In these periods, eating more than what your body requires for available energy gets stored as fat, and when insufficient energy is obtained by food, the body looks first to muscle proteins before these adipose fat-stores are broken down. In essence, slowed metabolism through speed-eating could be just as bad as starving yourself.

If eating fast truly slows metabolism like starvation, is there a correct speed at which to eat? The study never measured eating speed with complex instruments, though baseline medical diagnostics of all patients were taken throughout the course of those three years. The survey would have been based on the individual perspective of eating speed demonstrated by each participant. Nutrition research will tell you that dietary needs vary, and there is no true specific universal regimen of diet or exercise that would apply to everyone.

Still, it couldn’t hurt to slow down from time to time and enjoy your food. Who knows? You could be preventing future health risks associated with weight problems such as heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes. Recommended U.S. diet and exercise guidelines can be found at ChooseMyPlate.gov, though it’s always best to discuss your specific health needs with a physician or Registered Dietitian (particularly prior to starting a new regimen). As always, a licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. 

What do you think about these new findings? Join in the discussion! Comment below, share on Facebook or join us on Twitter, hashtag #DMTalk. 

Staff Writer

Leo Ashcraft

A retired broadcast engineer, talk show host, news reporter - I have done everything there is to do in the radio broadcast business. I worked a year in television. I left that as my true passion has always been radio - plus I got tired of hearing - you have a face for radio.. I hope you enjoy my articles! Be sure to share them excessively on facebook - like our page and bug your friends with invites!

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1 Response

  1. Rob Reilly Rob Reilly says:

    I’ve never seen people anywhere eat as fast as they do here in Japan. And I’ve never seen so many skinny and healthy people as I do here. Also, Japanese tend to inhale their food and not chew it nearly as much as we do in the West. Usually, it’s because soba and udon and rice are eaten when scolding hot and the food doesn’t even touch the inside of the mouth. A puzzlement!

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