Slowing Down Your Nosh Can Keep You Thinner and Your Heart Stronger

Man eating sandwich
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Quit shoveling food into your mouth a la Homer Simpson. Gobbling down your meal as fast as you can may cause health problems like gaining weight and having a stroke, says a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting.

Research has shown that fast eaters can increase their risk of developing metabolic syndrome. The syndrome is diagnosed when at least three risk factors—of the following: abdominal obesity, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and/or low HDL (or good) cholesterol—and it can up your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

The study investigated more than 1,000 Japanese men and women with the average age around 51, and who showed no signs of metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the research period. After five years they found that the gobblers were almost 12% more likely to have developed metabolic syndrome over the normal eaters (6.5%) and the slow munchers (2.3%). Overall, wolfing down food was linked to increased weight gain, higher blood pressure, and a bigger gut.

“Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome,” said study author Takayuki Yamaji, M.D., a cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan. “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.” And in what’s probably the understatement of 2017, Yamaji added: “We also believe our research would apply to a U.S. population.”