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Eating faster is associated with general and abdominal obesity among Chinese children

Eating faster results in an increased rate of energy intake. However, the relationship between children’s eating speed, food intake and general abdominal adiposity is unknown, and forms the basis of this paper. A total of 50,037 Chinese children aged 7-17 years were enrolled from 7 provinces in China in 2013. Objective measurements of anthropometrics were taken and food speed was assessed by questionnaire.

There was a significant increasing trend across the slow, medium, and fast eating speed groups observed, in the prevalence of general obesity (7.2%, 10.0% and 15.9%), abdominal obesity (16.1%, 21.8%, and 29.4%) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) ≥ 0.5 (11.1%, 14.8%, and 22.0%). Compared with medium eating speed, fast eating speed was positively associated with obesity, abdominal obesity, and WHtR ≥ 0.5, while slow eating speed was negatively associated with these outcomes. They also found increased speed was associated with increased consumption.

Although this paper doesn’t tell us anything of the mechanism of this phenomenon, there are several biologically plausible suggestions. Such as, fast-eating leads to lower satiety and higher calorie intake, while slow-eating leads to enhanced thermic effect of food and also influences the release of gastrointestinal satiety hormones. More research should be done to see if it’s possible to change eating speed in adults, and whether this has any effect on obesity, as this could provide a simple non-invasive therapeutic target.

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