Healthy living * Weight loss

Why eating too fast can make you fat

It leads to overeating

Eating your meals too fast can lead to overeating and weight gain, a new study has found.

Bolting down your food instead of savouring it slows down the release of gut hormones which induce the feeling of being full. So a fast eater will continue to eat more food, which could lead to overeating and weight gain.

"Most of us have heard that eating fast can lead to food overconsumption and obesity, and in fact some observational studies have supported this notion," said Dr Alexander Kokkinos, from Laiko General Hospital in Athens, who led the research.

"Our study provides a possible explanation for the relationship between speed eating and overeating by showing that the rate at which someone eats may impact the release of gut hormones that signal the brain to stop eating," Dr Kokkinos added.

In the study, volunteers were given 300ml of ice-cream to eat at different rates.

Blood samples were tested for glucose, insulin, lipids and gut hormones at the start and end of the meal. The results showed that volunteers who took the full 30 minutes to finish their ice cream had higher concentrations of gut hormones, and felt fuller than those who finished their ice cream quickly.

Although past research has shown that lower levels of gut hormones can affect the feeling of fullness, the researchers say this is the first time they have been linked to eating rates.

"Our findings give some insight into an aspect of modern-day food overconsumption, namely the fact that many people, pressed by demanding working and living conditions, eat faster and in greater amounts than in the past," said Dr Kokkinos.

"The warning we were given as children that 'wolfing down your food will make you fat,' may in fact have a physiological explanation."

This article was published on Thu 5 November 2009

Image © © Sergey Lavrentev -

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