Eat Less, Eat Longer to Stay Slim

It’s already known that eating fast can lead to weight gain. A new study published in the British Medical Journal now shows that the combination of quick eating and eating until full might be a sure-fire recipe for becoming overweight.

Sitting behind a desk all day, lounging during leisure time, and eating more calories than you burn all contribute to weight gain, and being overweight, in turn, increases your risk for a wide range of health problems.

Researchers from Japan surveyed 3,287 adults to investigate the effects of eating fast, eating until full, and the combination of both on weight gain in a study about heart disease risk.

More than half of the men and women reported that they regularly eat until they are full and 46% of men and 36% of women said that they ate quickly. Both men and women were about two times more likely to be overweight if they were quick eaters or if they ate until full; the combination of eating quickly and eating until full more than tripled the risk of being overweight. “The combination of the two eating behaviors had a supra-additive effect on being overweight,” said the researchers.

A little goes a long weigh

It doesn’t take a lot of weight loss to add up to big health gains: when overweight people with diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure lose as little of 10% of their body weight, they gain better blood sugar control, reduce their cholesterol levels, and bring their blood pressure down. As an added bonus, modest weight loss also increases longevity in people who are overweight.

To help keep your weight in a healthy range, consider trying these tips.

• Use a smaller plate: More space on the dinnerware may tempt you to fill it up. Using a smaller bowl or plate can help keep portion sizes in control.

• Share a meal: Eating with others allows time for conversation and helps slow down the pace of eating.

• Set a “no more eating” time: If you’re given to an evening snack, try not to eat past a certain time, say 7:00 p.m. Brush your teeth at that time, setting the mood for the nighttime fast.

• Make sure to break the fast: Eating breakfast is important for overall health as well as for weight control. You have the whole day to burn off the calories eaten at this meal, but you want to make them count by eating nutritious foods. Include a protein like hard boiled eggs or some fish from last night’s dinner to keep you going strong all day long.

(BMJ 2008;337:a2002doi:10.1136/bmj.a2002)

Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

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