A preliminary study being presented at the American Heart Association‘s Scientific Sessions 2017 reveals that eating slowly may have surprising and substantial health benefits. The research shows that a slower rate of eating lowers the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome, and a cluster of dangerous health risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.
When the dangerous risk factors of metabolic syndrome coincide, there is a significantly increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting over 40 percent of people in their 60s and 70s.
Japanese researchers focused their study on 642 men and 441 women who did not have metabolic syndrome in 2008. The average age of the participants was 51. The team divided the subjects into three groups based on their self-reported eating speeds, which were classified as slow, normal or fast.
After following up five years later, the researchers established that fast eaters were almost 12 percent more likely to have developed metabolic syndrome than normal eaters or slow eaters. Eating faster was found to be linked with a larger waistline, higher blood sugar, and more weight gain.
Takayuki Yamaji, M.D., is a study co-author and cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan.
Dr. Yamaji explained, “Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome. When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance. We also believe our research would apply to a U.S. population.”