Although the idea that eating slower inhibits appetite has been around for decades, there was no scientific evidence. Now the first study to evaluate the claim finds it to be true.
"It started in about 1972 as a hypothesis that eating slowly would allow the body time for the development of satiety [fullness] and we would eat less," said Kathleen Melanson, a researcher from the University of Rhode Island. "Since then we've heard it everywhere and it has become common knowledge. But no studies had been conducted to prove it."
The study, led by Melanson, gave 30 college-aged-women large plates of pasta and told to eat as much as they wished.
When they were asked to eat quickly, they consumed 646 calories in nine minutes. But when they were promoted to slow down and chew the food 15 to 20 times, their calorie consumption was about 579 calories in 29 minutes.
"Satiety signals clearly need time to develop," Melanson said. "Not only did the women take in fewer calories when they ate more slowly, they had a greater feeling of satiety at meal completion and 60 minutes afterwards, which strongly suggests benefits to eating more slowly."
The women who ate slowly also reported enjoying their meals more.
The results were reported at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity in October.