Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chew More to Eat Less, Study Says

In places where food is overly abundant, people always seem to be looking for ways to eat less. It is a bizarre reality, and people will try just about anything to lose weight or stay thin. This also keeps researchers busy with potential research ideas that may ultimately help 'solve' the obesity epidemic. Today's topic of research? Seeing if chewing more can make you skinny. It's crazy but true. Stranger still is the fact that this isn't the first study to link chewing to obesity.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, chewing your food 40 times compared to the usual 15 chews that most people take can help you consume almost 12% fewer calories on average. In previous studies, the link between the number of chews and obesity has been mixed; some studies found an association while others did not.

In the study conducted at the Harbin Medical University in China, 14 obese men and 16 men or normal weight were given a 'typical' breakfast and the number of chews they took while eating their meal were counted. In addition, their blood sugar and hormone levels were measured.

The researchers found that chewing time was associated with levels of hormones that regulate satiety and hunger. Chewing more was associated with both grehlin, a hormone that makes us want to eat more, in addition to CCK, a hormone that tells us that we are full and should stop eating. There was no connection between chewing time and insulin or blood glucose levels.

The good news was that the participants who chewed longer cut their calorie intake by an average of 12%. According to health experts, this could translate to weight loss upwards of 25 pounds in a year. On the flip side, since the study was small and only conducted on men, it's results should be taken with a grain of salt. In addition, in reality, many of the calories we consume are not from foods that are chewed; we have to account for liquid calories too.

Despite the flaws and drawbacks of this study, it remains true that eating is a complex behaviour that is regulated by a multitude of factors which ultimately translate to one's weight. If we are going to help people who are at an unhealthy weight change the way that they eat and get healthier, we have to figure out different solutions that speak to different people; not every strategy will work for everyone!