After analyzing all influential factors, the researchers found that compared to people who indulge in fast eating, people with normal eating speeds were 29% less likely to be obese, and slow eaters were 42% less likely. Now, a study in BMJ Open sheds some light onto which of those strategies actually work: Based on data from almost 60,000 people, three behaviors-eating slowly, cutting out after-dinner snacks and not eating within two hours of going to bed-were linked to lower obesity rates and smaller waistlines.
Further analysis of the results found that slower eating speed, no sleep loss, not skipping breakfast regularly and not regularly eating dinner just before bed were all associated with a lower chance of obesity.
It is not the first time a study finds an association between eating speed and numerous health benefits.
Nevertheless, eating quickly has been linked to impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance.
The results showed that 21.5% of the slow-eating group was obese, compared to nearly 30% of the normal-speed eaters and 45% of the fast-eating group.
The World Health Organization considers someone with a BMI of 25 to be overweight and 30 or higher to be obese.
As the current research was an observational study, no firm conclusions were drawn about cause and effect - added to which eating speed was based on subjective assessment - nor did the researchers examine the physical activity or energy intake levels, both of which may have been influential.
Eating slowly could be the key to weight loss, according to a new study. Skipping breakfast was not.
At the start of the study, more than half of the people said they ate at a normal speed, while about a third said they tended to eat fast.
And they conclude, "Changes in eating habits can affect obesity, BMI, and waist circumference". "Our model revealed that consistently eating breakfast can reduce obesity, which also corroborates the findings of previous studies".
One of those habits was eating speed, ranked on a scale of slow, medium to fast.
"Changes in eating habits can affect obesity, BMI and waist circumference", the researchers wrote. Compared to people who ate dinner within 2 hours of sleeping (at least 3 times a week), those who didn't were 10% less likely to be obese (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.86 to 0.94).
Commenting on the research, Simon Cork of Imperial College London said it "confirms what we already believe, that eating slowly is associated with less weight gain than eating quickly".
People looking to lose weight might try all kinds of ways to eat fewer calories.
"When you tend to eat quickly, you may miss out on your body's cues for satiety, or fullness, and end up eating more". The study suggested that this might be because fast eaters consume more food before feeling full.