Slow Chewing Can Help Prevent Childhood Obesity – Study

dad-sonSurely, you’ve heard it before: Eat less to weigh less! A new study by University of California researchers has now confirmed this universally held belief, indicating that chewing slowly can help prevent excessive weight gain in children.

According to the study findings, a pause of 30 seconds in between bites of food allows kids to realize that they’re full, hence preventing overeating and weight gain in children, and that too without changing their diet regime.

“To lose weight, you need to stop eating. But it’s not that simple for most people,” said study co-researcher Marcos Intaglietta, from the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego. “So we decided to investigate how effective eating slowly would be.”

Intaglietta and his team worked with physicians from the National University of Mexico to investigate whether slow eating could make their stomach signal to their brain that they are no longer hungry.

As part of the study, the researchers recruited 54 children, aged between 6 to 17, from a Mexican School in Durango, and observed their eating habits over a 1-year period.

The children were divided into 2 groups. Children in first group were told by the researchers to eat deliberately slow and to stop eating when the feeling of hunger disappears. The student participants in the other group, were given no instructions.

The first group participants were also instructed to drink a glass of water at the beginning of each meal, and then told to chew each bite of food for 30 seconds before taking the next, so they had time to realise when they were no longer hungry and stop eating. The students were given a portable 30 second hourglass sand timer to check the correct start and stop eating time.

After comparing both of these groups to a control group, the researchers found that children who did not seriously follow slow eating approach had their body-mass index increased, while in contrast those using the hourglass excessively grew normally their BMI.

In the compliant group, the weight of the students dropped anywhere from two to 5.7% after six months and 3.4 to 4.8% after a year.

Contrary to this, the weight of the students in the non-compliant group increased by 4.4 to 5.8% after six months and 8.3 to 12.6% after one year.

The students in the control group had their weight increased by 6.5 to 8.2% after one year.

“You can adopt this slow eating approach for yourself and keep it up for the rest of your life,” said Geert Schmid-Schonbein, another of the study’s co-authors. “You can teach this approach to your children and they can teach it to their children in turn.”

Conclusion of the study published in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Pediatric Obesity.