Eating Habits Contribute to Weight Gain as Much as Food Choices

Perhaps it’s not so surprising to find that a combination of eating behaviors might contribute to weight gain. Adults who eat quickly and stay at the table till they’re absolutely full are three times more likely to be overweight than those who eat more slowly or stop before they’re stuffed.

And today, with food that’s cheap and fast, in larger portions than ever before, all of us are eating more calorie-laden foods. Distractions like TV and eating at your desk encourage you to consume thoughtlessly, so it’s no wonder obesity rates are rising.

The study, appearing in the October 22 Online First issue of the British Medical Journal (now known as BMJ), involved nearly 3,300 Japanese men and women, aged 30 to 69, who filled out diet questionnaires on how quickly they ate and if they continued to eat until full.

Both weight and height measurements were also taken, though most of the subjects weren’t overweight.

The odds of being overweight were three times higher for subjects who reported that they were fast eaters… who stayed at the table until completely full.

In fact, there was a significant positive association between exhibiting both of the two eating behaviors and being overweight.

What’s interesting is that the finding held up even when including factors like age and getting regular physical activity. Though the research only involved adults, the idea of starting good, relaxed eating habits in childhood makes sense, this according to an editorial published in the same BMJ issue as the study.

“Eating quickly, gorging, and binge eating have been associated with total energy intake, and eating quickly and binge eating have been associated with satiety and insulin resistance,” writes Koutatsu Maruyama, from Osaka University in Osaka, Japan, and colleagues.

“All these eating behaviors may lead to being overweight or obese. In addition, the positive association of eating quickly with body mass index was observed independent of total energy intake.”

The editorial piece published along with the research advises parents (and all of us) not to push kids to eat more.

Instead feed meals in a way that allows for a child to stop eating when they feel full.

Eating slowly, looking closely at portion sizes and eating without distractions are all helpful changes you can make to your child’s, and your own, eating behaviors.

“Well children don’t starve,” write the editorialists, who include Elizabeth Denney-Wilson, PhD. MPH. She is a research fellow at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Her suggestion is that we strive for our eating behaviors to be controlled by the body, as Nature intended… not a need to “clean your plate” or finish up so it won’t go to waste.

Continues below…


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Eating Habits Contribute to Weight Gain as Much as Food Choices continued

Research in 2006 by University of Rhode Island nutrition scientists supports the idea of eating more slowly and consuming fewer calories – subjects ate 67 fewer calories in about half an hour than they did during a nine minute meal.

What’s more, they felt fuller and more satisfied for up to an hour after the meal, and you’ll likely enjoy the meal more to boot.

Try sitting down with the family at the table… enjoying the food and some conversation while helping to help nourish your body without all those energy-sapping excess calories.