Slow Eating Reduces Weight in Kids

Taking enough time to eat has long been advocated as an effective weight management strategy (remember, the real problem with fastfood is more often the “fast” than the “food”). I have also previously blogged about how eating too fast is an important predictor of obesity.

Not surprisingly therefore, various strategies to slow down eating are being explored to help manage weight (one such approach is the SMART system, an oral device that reduces bite size, thereby significantly increasing meal times).

Another novel approach to reducing “tachyphagia” was now explored in kids using a talking scale called a “Mandometer“. According to the manufacturer’s website, the device, originally intended for the treatment of eating disorders, ” allows the patient to see a rate of eating displayed on the screen that describes the rate at which normal individuals eat that amount of food and feel satiety as they eat. At the same time, the patient’s own eating speed and perception of satiety is shown on the screen.” 

In this study, by Ford and colleagues from the University of Bristol, UK, published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, 106 kids (aged 9-17) were radomised to either using the Mandometer, which provided real time feedback during meals to slow down versus standard lifestyle modification.

Participants using the Mandometer were initially trained once a week for six weeks, every second week for a further six weeks, and once every sixth week thereafter. The research nurse telephoned the patients to offer support and encouragement every second week from week 12 onwards.

Over the 18 month duration of the study, participants using the Mandometer had significantly lower BMI levels and a significant reduction in meal size.

The authors conclude that retraining eating behaviour with a feedback device is a useful adjunct to standard lifestyle modification in treating obesity among adolescents.

Edmonton, Alberta