“Eat Slowly” — Foolproof Advice? It Depends

Eat slowly is no doubt advice that you have heard for some time, perhaps starting with your mother. It sounds like a wise tip — good advice for all. But is it? As it turns out, that depends on how you define good advice and whether you have obesity.

If you’re defining good advice as something that can’t hurt, then this passes the test. If you expect it will really help you eat less, this advice is on shakier ground. That’s because eating slowly doesn’t have the same effect in people with obesity — on fullness and calories consumed — as it does on people with a healthier weight.

Meena Shah and colleagues documented these differences in a new controlled study of hunger, fullness, and food consumption in people with and without obesity. They measured the effect of eating more slowly in a crossover design where people ate the same meal at a faster and a slower rate on two different days.

Eating more slowly caused people in a healthy-weight range to consume fewer calories, experience less hunger and more fullness. But for people with obesity, eating slowly had no effect on calories consumed or fullness. The only effect was that they experienced less hunger, as did the healthy-weight group.

So, your mom didn’t give you bad advice. Eating slowly won’t hurt anyone. But if you have obesity, don’t expect that it’s the magic key to eating less. For that, you might need more than just feel-good advice.

Click here to read more in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Slow Food, photograph © letdown102 / flickr

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