As well, eating breakfast is also supported by the new research.
The surveys included questions on eating and sleeping habits, including a self-assessment of how fast the participants ate food, how soon they went to bed after dinner, and the frequency with which they snacked at night. Eating speed can affect changes in obesity, body mass index, and waist circumference in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online February 12 in BMJ Open.
Scientists studied medical records from the years 2008 until 2013 of 59,717 people with type 2 diabetes, a disease that often results from a being overweight.
The Standard Health Check-up and Counselling Guidance Programme was used as a questionnaire to determine participants' eating speed and lifestyle habits.
The participants were asked whether they eat "slow, fast, or normal", which the researchers didn't define. These people were asked about their eating habits and were made to categorize the speed at which they consumed food.
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At the start of the study, 22,070 people routinely wolfed down their food, 33,455 ate at a normal speed, and 4,192 classed themselves as slow eaters.
Snacking after dinner and eating within two hours of going to sleep three or more times a week were also linked to changes in BMI. It also suggested that slow and normal eaters were more likely to have a smaller stomach circumference.
But before you vow to never gobble your dinner again, there were certain limitations to the study including the fact that it only focused on participants with type 2 diabetes, only featured a few older participants, and did not take into account levels of physical exercise or the amount of food eaten daily.
The study showed that 21.5% of people who took their time over their meals had been diagnosed with obesity. Meanwhile for slow eaters, feelings of fullness might happen more quickly, helping to curb calorie intake. "Those who naturally eat slowly may be attending to their body's cues for fullness, and eat a more appropriate portion during each eating occasion", Nina Crowley, Ph.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist and health psychologist working at the Medical University of SC, told CBS News. The WHO considers someone with a BMI of 25 overweight, and 30 or higher obese.
Changes in these eating habits were strongly associated with lower obesity and weight - Body Mass Index (BMI), and smaller waist circumference, the researchers found. "Intervening to reduce how fast one eats can be effective in preventing obesity", they said.
Ian MacDonald, professor of metabolic physiology at the University of Nottingham, U.K, said: "It is certainly not appropriate to extrapolate from these observations to conclude about eating speed and the development of obesity-however attractive the idea that fast eaters are likely to eat more, and that eating more leads to weight gain".