NOV 24, 2017 8:40 AM PST

Stop Eating So Fast!

What you eat impacts your health. Thousands of studies show that a diet that includes whole grains, lean meat and fish, and plenty of fruits and vegetables will reduce the risk of developing any number of health problems from high blood pressure to obesity to diabetes or cancer. But what about other factors in diet? Does it matter when you eat? According to this research, it does. How fast you eat is also another factor. New research from Japan shows an association between how quickly a meal is consumed and several cardiovascular health problems.

Researchers from Hiroshima University recently presented their preliminary findings on the issue of eating speed to the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017. The AHA Scientific Sessions are designed to bring together scientists and clinical professionals for a global exchange of current practices, studies and prospective research in the field of cardiovascular health. The information presented on the speed of meal consumption, while not yet published or peer-reviewed, suggested that those who eat too fast could be at risk for several cardiovascular issues, including obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed in patients who have at least three conditions that put them at a high risk for CVD. They include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides or low HDL cholesterol. A combination of these factors ups the risk of a heart attack or stroke significantly.

The study included 642 men and 441 women with an average age of 51. None of them had metabolic syndrome or any form of heart disease when the study began in 2008.  The participants were divided into three. The team followed the subjects for five years, and the results they found showed that those who consumed meals at a fast pace had an 11.6% rate of metabolic syndrome compared to a rate of 6.5% and 2.3% in normal and slow eaters, respectively. The fast eaters also had more weight gain over the study period, higher blood sugar levels, and larger waistline girth.

Takayuki Yamaji, M.D, who was the study author, is a cardiologist at the university medical center, explained, "Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome. When people eat fast, they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance. We also believe our research would apply to a U.S. population."

While the study had some drawbacks, including the fact that the data on eating speed was self-reported and no specific range of time was applied to the three categories of fast, normal or slow, it does echo previous research studies. Published articles from other projects have shown similar associations between eating speed and cardiovascular health.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26100137) and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21802566 that also showed an association between speed of eating and poor cardiovascular outcomes. While modern life can be busy and meals are sometimes grabbed on the go, to stay healthy, it's a good idea to slow down a little and take more time to enjoy a meal. Your heart will thank you. The video below has more information on the topic, check it out.

Sources: American Heart Association, ScienceAlert, PubMed, PubMed 

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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