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Study: Eating Speeds Can Affect Calorie Consumption

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File photo of an obese person being weighed at a doctor's office. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

File photo of an obese person being weighed at a doctor’s office. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH, Texas (CBS Houston) – The percentage of those who are obese more than doubled over the past 30 years in the United States. Between 1971 and 1974, a reported 14.5 percent of the population was considered obese. Between 2009 and 2012, an estimated 35.9 percent  of people in America were said to be obese.

Those involved in a new study believe the control over energy intake in individuals could contribute to the presence or lack of unwanted belly fat. They also suggest that the ability to control energy intake may be affected by the speed at which we eat.

Researchers in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University examined how eating speeds can affect calorie count and found that high rates of eating may impair the relationship between the sensory signals and processes that regulate how much we eat.

Previous studies that looked at this matter were conducted with normal-weight participants; this study, however, incorporated both normal-weight participants as well as overweight or obese participants.

All participants ate one meal at a slow rate, and a second meal at a faster rate. Researchers found that the normal-weight subjects had a statistically significant reduction in caloric consumption during the slow compared to the fast meal.

“Slowing the speed of eating led to a significant reduction in energy intake in the normal-weight group, but not in the overweight or obese group,” Meena Shah, PhD professor in the Department of Kinesiology at TCU and lead author said in a press release. “It is possible that the overweight and obese subjects felt more self-conscious, and thus ate less during the study.”

Those involved in the study also found that both groups felt less hungry after eating the slow meal.

“In both groups, ratings of hunger were significantly lower at 60 minutes from when the meal began during the slow compared to the fast eating condition,” Dr. Shah added.

Both groups also drank more water during the slow meal.

“Water consumption was higher during the slow compared to the fast eating condition by 27 percent in the normal weight and 33 percent in the overweight or obese group,” Dr. Shah said. “The higher water intake during the slow eating condition probably caused stomach distention and may have affected food consumption.”

“Slowing the speed of eating may help to lower energy intake and suppress hunger levels and may even enhance the enjoyment of a meal,” Dr. Shah suggested in the study.

The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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