Eating Slowly May Help Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease

It seems that eating at a snail’s pace might be good for our health, reducing our chances for metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health risk factors that includes high fasting blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, abdominal obesity, and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol. An estimated 34 percent of the U.S. adult population has metabolic syndrome, meaning they have three or more of these risk factors.

In 2008, a team of researchers looked into the effects of eating speed on human health. For their study, they enrolled 642 adult men, and 441 adult women who did not have metabolic syndrome. The participants were divided into three groups according to their usual eating speed: slow, normal/medium, or fast.

After five years, the researchers determined that normal and slow eaters were less likely to have developed metabolic syndrome than the fast eaters. Of the hasty eaters, 11.6 percent had developed the syndrome, compared to 6.5 percent of the normal, and 2.3 percent of the slow eaters.

Further, a faster eating speed was associated with higher glucose levels, more weight gain, and wider waistlines.

“Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome,” said researcher Takayuki Yamaji, M.D., cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan. “When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance. We also believe our research would apply to a U.S. population.”

The research findings were presented at the 2017 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, a platform for the exchange of worldwide cardiovascular science advances.

Sources: AHA News; What Is Metabolic Syndrome/AHA?
Photo credit: Randy Robertson

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