New research from the University of Rhode Island shows that men eat significantly faster than women, heavier people eat faster than slimmer people, and refined grains are consumed faster than whole grains. Researcher Kathleen Melanson presented the findings at the annual meeting of The Obesity Society in Orlando this month.
Melanson and her co-researchers found that fast eaters consumed about 3 ounces of food per minute, medium-speed eaters consumed 2.5 ounces per minute, and slow eaters consumed 2 ounces per minute. This work is the first to validate relationships between eating rate and body weight.
Melanson said there were also "very strong gender differences" in eating rates. At lunch, the men consumed about 80 calories per minute while the women consumed 52 calories per minute. "The men who reported eating slowly ate at about the same rate as the women who reported eating quickly," said Melanson.
Interestingly, the researchers found a close association between eating rate and body mass index (BMI), with those individuals with a high BMI typically eating considerably faster than those with a low BMI. "One theory we are pursuing is that fast eating may be related to greater energy needs, since men and heavier people have higher energy needs," said Melanson.
In what Melanson called her favorite result, the study also found that the test subjects consumed a meal of whole grains - whole grain cereal and whole wheat toast - significantly slower than when eating a similar meal of refined grains.
The link between eating rate and obesity is still being studied, but Melanson said that her research has demonstrated that eating slowly results in significantly fewer average calories being consumed. "It takes time for your body to process fullness signals," she concluded, "so slower eating may allow time for fullness to register in the brain before you've eaten too much."
Discuss this article in our forum
You Aren't What You Eat
Eating disorders affect 15 percent of women
Yo-yo dieting not so dangerous
Different Dietary Needs For Men And Women
Source: University of Rhode Island