Here's why you might want to linger over lunch to lose weight

Doctors already advise patients wanting to lose weight to eat more slowly to limit their portion sizes

Patients were also told to detail their snacking habits and whether or not they ate within two hours of going to sleep. Next, the participants answered a set of questions about their eating speed ('fast", "normal' and "slow'), whether they had dinner within 2 hours of sleeping, but also habits concerning after-dinner snacking, skipping breakfast, alcohol consumption frequency, sleep adequacy and tobacco consumption".

And they conclude, "Changes in eating habits can affect obesity, BMI, and waist circumference".

Authors of the study added that people changed the speed of their eating through the research that suggests that if you modify the way you eat you can lose weight.

At the start of the study, some 22,070 people routinely wolfed down their food; 33,455 ate at a normal speed; 4192 lingered over every mouthful.

Around half of the total sample changed their eating speed over the course of the six years.

The findings of the study showed that slow eaters tend to be healthier and possess a healthier lifestyle compared to those who eat at either a fast or normal speed.

A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal reported that nearly a third of Irish children are now overweight and the country ranks 58th out of 200 countries for its proportion of overweight youths.

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Other factors that could help people lose weight, according to the data, included to stop snacking after dinner, and not to eat within two hours of going to bed. But skipping breakfast wasnot.

"Researchers measured the participants" Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference. "The control of eating speed may therefore be a possible means of regulating body weight and preventing obesity, which in turn reduces the risk of developing non-communicable diseases".

The findings were based on health insurance data for almost 60,000 people with diabetes in Japan who submitted claims and had regular health check-ups between 2008 and 2013.

Leah Cahill, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax who researches eating but was not involved in the study, says the results are empowering. Also, there was no data about the quantity of food the participants ate or about whether they exercised or not. Past studies have found that fast-eaters are more likely to get fat, get sick with the metabolic syndrome, and be diagnosed with acid reflux. "The main results indicated that decreases in eating speeds can lead to reductions in obesity and BMI", they found.

Adults with type 2 diabetes who reported "fast" eating speeds had a higher risk for obesity than those who reported eating at "normal" or "slow" speeds. Fast eaters may also continue to scarf down food even after they've consumed adequate calories, the study authors write in their paper, whereas slow eaters might feel full on less food overall.

Researchers speculate that this is because it takes time for the satiety signal to travel from the stomach to the brain.

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