Every night I sat down to dinner with my parents and two older brothers growing up, my father was the last one to leave the table. The four of us would scarf down our plates before my father even had a chance to scratch the surface.
My father was raised in a house that required him to chew each mouthful 10 times before swallowing. Apparently, that wisdom didn’t get passed down to his children. A shame, seeing that two new studies by researchers at the University of Rhode Island found further evidence linking slow eating to a reduction in food intake.
“The studies found that men eat significantly faster than women, heavier people eat faster than slimmer people, and refined grains are consumed faster than whole grains, among other findings,” according to a release on the study.
Kathleen Melanson, URI associate professor of nutrition, along with graduate students Emily Ponte and Amanda Petty found that fast eaters consumed about 3.1 ounces of food per minute, medium-speed eaters consumed 2.5 ounces per minute, and slow eaters consumed 2 ounces per minute.
The team also found differences in calorie consumption across gender -- men consumed 80 calories per minute at lunch while women consumed 52 calories per minute at lunch -- while the men felt they were eating slowly and the women self-reported that they were eating quickly.
"One theory we are pursuing is that fast eating may be related to greater energy needs, since men and heavier people have higher energy needs," said Melanson.
The overarching theme here is that if you eat slower, you consume less food and ultimately, fewer calories. And in the day and age when obesity in American is running rampant -- the Centers for Disease Control estimates 1/3 of all U.S. adults are obese -- eating slower would seem a positive step in the fight against obesity.
But researchers in the Netherlands published a study in March 2011 that found people maintained their high-caloric snacking habits after meals regardless of how slowly or quickly they consumed their food.