Researchers at the University of Rhode Island have found that eating faster increases the amount of food consumption.
Results of their two new studies revealed that men eat significantly faster than women, heavier people eat faster than slimmer people, and refined grains are consumed faster than whole grains, among other findings.
In one laboratory study, Kathleen Melanson, URI associate professor of nutrition, and her lab team found that fast eaters consumed about 3.1 ounces of food per minute, medium-speed eaters consumed 2.5 ounces per minute, and slow eaters consumed 2 ounces per minute.
The researchers also found what Melanson described as '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 second study, which examined the characteristics associated with eating rates, 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.
While the link between eating rate and obesity is still being studied, Melanson said that her research has demonstrated that eating slowly results in significantly fewer average calories being consumed.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of The Obesity Society in Orlando this month.