Gobbling your food could make you overeat

08 November 2009


If your mother ever told you not to eat your food too quickly it turns out she was probably onto something. Scientists have discovered that when people eat slowly, more appetite suppressing hormones are released than if they quickly scoff their food. This makes slow eaters less likely that they will want to keep on eating and eventually overeat.

A pair of cheeseburgersThe team from Imperial College in London and Athens University Medical School in Greece published this study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. They recruited a group of volunteers, who were asked not to eat anything for 10 hours, then come into the lab and eat 300ml of ice cream - a good bowl-full. On two separate occasions, they were asked to eat the ice cream either in 5 minutes, or to nibble at it slowly over half an hour by dividing them into smaller portions that were taken out of the freezer every 5 minutes.

Before the experiment began and then for the following three hours, the levels of blood hormones in the volunteers were measured, called ghrelin, PYY and glucagon-like peptide, or GLP-1. These are produced in the gastrointestinal tract in response to food being eaten and all act on a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and are known to play an important regulatory role in mediating feelings of hunger and fullness and so effect the amount of energy intake.

The volunteers were also asked standardized questions about how full or hungry they felt at different points during the study.

Levels of the two hormones, PYY and GLP-1 were both higher in the volunteers who ate slowly, compared to the fast eaters. So, it seems when you eat more slowly, your guts are better at telling your brain that it's time to stop eating.

And the slow eaters all reported feeling much more full after eating their ice cream than the gobblers.

Other past studies have suggested a link between fast eating a body weight in adults and children so now this study has provided the first evidence for the link between the two.

So, perhaps it pays to listen to you mother, and we could all benefit from enjoying eating our food slowly rather than wolfing it right down.


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