Take Your Time Eating – Study Says It’s Linked to Weight Loss

A study of 60,000 people with diabetes published online by the British Medical Journal Open suggests that the pace that you eat your food at in addition to not eating anything 2 hours before going to bed are key influences on weight loss.

The research

According to the research such adjustments to eating behaviour were firmly linked to reduced BMI and weight as well as lower obesity levels and a smaller waist.

The participants in the study had routine check-ups for 5 years between 2008 and 2013. A lifestyle questionnaire was completed and regular weight and waist measurements were recorded.

The cohort, interviewed were quizzed particularly regarding their speed of eating which were classified into 3 groups; slow, normal or fast.   They were also asked which of these specific circumstances applied to them:

  • Skip breakfast
  • Eat snacks after dinner (the evening meal)
  • Have dinner within 2 hours of sleeping at night


More than a third (36.5%) of participants had one check-up over the six years.  Just under a third  (29.5%) had two. One in five (20%) had three.

At the start of the study, some 22,070 people routinely wolfed down their food. 33,455 ate at a normal speed.  4192 lingered over every mouthful. The slow eaters tended to be healthier and to have a healthier lifestyle than either the fast or normal speed eaters.

Around half of the total sample (just under 52%) changed their eating speed over the course of the six years.

All the aspects of eating and sleeping habits studied, as well as alcohol consumption and previous obesity–defined as a BMI of 25 kg/m2–were significantly associated with obesity.

After taking account of potentially influential factors, the results showed that compared with those who tended to gobble up their food, those who ate at a normal speed were 29 percent less likely to be obese, rising to 42 percent for those who ate slowly.

And although absolute reductions in waist circumference, an indicator of a potentially harmful midriff bulge were small, they were greater among the slow and normal speed eaters.

Snacking after dinner and eating within 2 hours of going to sleep 3 or more times a week were also strongly linked to changes in BMI. But skipping breakfast wasn’t.

What does this mean?

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Added to which eating speed was based on subjective assessment, nor did the researchers assess energy intake or physical activity.

Nevertheless, eating quickly has been linked to impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Possibly because it may take longer for fast eaters to feel full.  Whereas this may happen more quickly for slow eaters, helping to curb their calorie intake, the researchers suggest.

In conclusion: “Changes in eating habits affect obesity, BMI, and waist circumference. Interventions aimed at reducing eating speed may be effective in preventing obesity and lowering health risks.”

…. You never know, maybe this study can help you secure a longer lunch break ;).

Source:  British Medical Journal Open.