Big in Japan: Can’t get skinny? Eat slower!

Your mother was right – it actually might be a good idea to chew your food 20 times before swallowing…

In a recently published study from Osaka University, researchers examined the eating habits of around 3,000 Japanese people, and found that eating too quickly may be enough to double your risk of being overweight.

On Monday, Big in Japan reported about the Morning Banana Diet, which has catapulted the humble banana into the latest ranks of fad foods. Of course, if you’re not particularly partial to this phallic fruit, fear not as deliberately slowing down at mealtimes might be enough to get your weight down.

According to the Osaka study, which was published in the venerable British Medical Journal (BMJ), obesity is partially caused by problems in signaling systems that tell the body when to stop eating. Furthermore, there appears to be a strong and measureable relationship between eating speed, feelings of fullness and obesity.

The study reported that just under half of the 3,000 volunteers told researchers that they tended to eat quickly or eat until they felt full. In this sample set, fast-eating men were 84% more likely to be overweight, while fast-eating women were twice as likely.

Food for thought, huh?

Need a few reasons to slow down and enjoy your food?

There is now an increasing body of scientific evidence to support the conclusion that eating fast could be bad for your weight. In fact, wolfing down your meal might actually interfere with a crucial signaling system that tells your brain to stop eating because your stomach is swelling up.

In other words, your stomach is a big balloon of an organ, which means that binge eating can cause you to – quite literally – overfill it!

Unfortunately, there are some seriously strong biological and evolutionary reasons why we display this troublesome behavior. Some anthropologists have concluded that we learn how to eat in this manner during infancy, and that this mechanism might have served us well in past times of famine. Medical researchers have also supported this claim, providing evidence that the way we eat seems to be formulated at a very early age.

According to Dr Jason Halford, Director of the Kissileff Human Ingestive Behaviour Laboratory at the University of Liverpool: “What the Japanese research shows is that individual differences in eating behavior underlie over-consumption of food and are linked to obesity. Other research has found evidence of this in childhood, suggesting that it could be inherited or learned at a very early age.”

Dr. Halford has stated that there is currently no evidence that trying to slow down mealtimes for children would have an impact on future obesity rates. However, this is not to say that parents shouldn’t take the time to set good examples for their children at the dinner table.

On the contrary, ‘slow-eating’ certainly increases the chances that your brain and your stomach will be in sync, and – at least in our humble opinion – food tastes a lot better if you take the time to properly chew it before swallowing.

Looks like our mothers were right all along!

** All images courtesy of the WikiCommons Media Project **