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Eating quickly, until full trebles risk for overweight

BMJ 2008; 337: a2002



Eating quickly and until full trebles the risk for becoming overweight, report Japanese researchers in the British Medical Journal.

The current global obesity epidemic has fuelled much research into causes and prevention of obesity.

Hiroyasu Iso (Osaka University, Yamadaoka, Japan) and team carried out a study to determine whether eating quickly and eating until full – defined as eating a large amount of food in one meal – were associated with risk for becoming overweight or obese in a group of 3287 Japanese adults.

The men (n=1122) and women (n=2165) participating in the study were aged 30–69 years. Measurements of body mass index (BMI) were taken by researchers, and dietary habits were self-reported using a previously validated questionnaire.

The authors found that 571 (50.9%) men and 1265 (58.4%) women reported eating until full, and 523 (45.6%) men and 785 (36.3%) women reported eating quickly or very quickly.

Following multivariate analysis, and compared with those not eating until full or eating quickly, Iso and colleagues calculated the adjusted odds ratio for overweight for eating until full to be 1.92 and 2.00, and for eating quickly to be 1.84 and 2.09, for men and women, respectively.

When the researchers compared participants with both eating behaviors to those with neither, the adjusted odds ratios were 3.13 and 3.21 for being overweight for men and women, respectively.

Editorialists Elizabeth Denney-Wilson and Karen Campbell (University of New South Wales and Deakin University, Australia) suggest: “It may be that the changing sociology of food consumption, with fewer families eating together, more people eating while distracted (for example, while watching television), and people eating ‘fast food’ while on the go all promote eating quickly.

“Furthermore, the increased availability of relatively inexpensive food, which is more energy dense and served in substantially larger portions, may promote eating beyond satiety.”

They say that finding ways to change these habits at an early age may help to stem the ever increasing levels of obesity that are currently seen in society.

Read the abstract