An interesting paradox exists with respect to eating and weight: a negative correlation exists between the average amount of time a country’s population spends eating each day and the proportion of its citizens who are obese.
The below graph, from The New York Times, shows the relationship between time the average person in a given country spends eating and that country’s obesity rate (as measured by the percentage of the national population with a body mass index higher than 30).
Similarly, this study from 2011 found that Body Mass Index (BMI) is affected both by the time spent eating as well as whether other activities are undertaken simultaneously with eating and drinking. Specifically the study found:
- For both females and males, an increase in either primary or secondary eating time is associated with a significantly lower BMI.
- Increases in television/video time are also associated with a statistically significant increase in BMI for both men and women.
- An increase in sleep time is linked to a significant decline in BMI for men but not women.
- More time spent in food preparation is associated with a decline in BMI for women but not men.
Another study published in 2017 from the American Heart Association found that:
- Fast eaters were more likely (11.6 percent) to have developed metabolic syndrome than normal eaters (6.5 percent) or slow eaters (2.3 percent);
- Faster eating speed was associated with more weight gain, higher blood glucose and larger waistline.
From the AHA Study lead researcher: “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.”
The simple strategy to control weight: Eat slowly! And when eating, just eat. Don’t watch TV, scroll thru Facebook, play video games or do anything else.
Note: I am the fastest eater I know. I really need to do better!