Wolfing Down Food Leads to Overeating

How quickly you eat may affect how much you eat and, ultimately, how much you weigh.

While anecdotal evidence has long suggested that eating quickly interferes with the feeling of being full, a recent study published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism looked at blood chemistry to determine why faster eaters might tend to overeat.

Researchers had 17 healthy adult males eat 675 calories’ worth of ice cream in two sessions. In one session, the subjects were asked to take 30 minutes to eat the ice cream. In the second session, the same amount of food was consumed in 5 minutes. Researchers took blood samples at the beginning of each session and every 30 minutes throughout each 210-minute session. At the same intervals, subjects were also asked to complete questionnaires that assessed hunger and fullness.

Patients who ate a meal in 30 minutes had higher levels of peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), two peptides that signal satiety, than those who finished their food in five minutes. The level of hunger-producing ghrelin was similar in both groups, although researchers noted a trend toward lower levels of the hormone after 120 minutes for the group that ate more slowly.

Researchers concluded that eating at a moderate pace leads to a higher production of gut hormones that affect hunger. Lower ghrelin levels may also suggest that eating more slowly allows you to feel full for a longer period of time after eating.