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Slower eating helps with weight loss

Consumer Reports News: January 12, 2010 02:12 PM

Research out this month from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine tells us that overeating is becoming a bigger health risk than smoking tobacco. So finding ways of fighting obesity, especially in children, is becoming ever more important.

We know that people who are overweight tend to eat faster, and that when we eat fast, we consume more food before we start to feel full. Could slowing down the rate at which we eat help us lose weight?

The answer is yes, according to a BMJ study of 106 overweight children and teens at a hospital in England.

Half the children were taught to use a ‘mandometer’ device with their evening meal. The device is a plate which is also a weighing scale, connected to a computer that tracks the weight of the meal, and how fast it’s eaten. The computer warns children to slow down, if they’re eating faster than the rate set by their doctor.

It sounds like a bit of a nightmare, but it seemed to work. The kids using the device moved closer to a healthy weight than the kids who were just taught about healthy eating. They also reduced the size of their meals over the course of the study. The improvement lasted at least 18 months, although there were signs that by then the kids were starting to speed up their eating again.

But do we really need computers to tell our children to slow down and chew their food properly? Maybe a return to some good, old-fashioned table manners would work as well. It’s certainly worth a try. What you need to know. Eating slowly means you’re likely to feel full, even if you’ve eaten less food. It’s a good technique for helping you control the amount you eat.

—Anna Sayburn, patient editor, BMJ Group has partnered with The BMJ Group to monitor the latest medical research and assess the evidence to help you decide which news you should use.

Read more on how slower eating and snacking can help you lose weight, find out why some people gain weight more easily than others, and take a look at how a combination of diet, exercise, and behavorial therapy can help you take off the pounds (subscribers only).

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