Chewing your food for longer may help you lose weight, scientists have suggested.
Munching on each mouthful for longer significantly reduces the amount of calories consumed during a meal, a study found.
Volunteers who chewed each mouthful 40 times ate 12 per cent less food than those who chewed just 15 times.
Be chewsy: Munching for longer means you’ll consume less calories
It also appears to lower levels of ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’, circulating in the digestive system.
Researchers at Harbin Medical University in China recruited 16 slim men and 14 obese men in their late teens or twenties and carried out two experiments.
In the first, they wanted to see if the obese men chewed their food differently to their lean rivals.
Each volunteer was given a pork pie and filmed by a secret camera to test how many times they chewed before swallowing.
The results found that, although the obese men chewed at the same speed as the slim ones, they swallowed their food much more quickly.
In the second experiment, both groups were given another portion of pork pie to chew 15 times then swallow, before repeating the exercise but chewing 40 times instead.
Researchers found that when volunteers chewed for longer they consumed 11.9 per cent fewer calories, regardless of whether they were slender or obese.
Blood tests taken 90 minutes after eating showed volunteers also had much lower levels of ghrelin when they had chewed each portion 40 times rather 15.
In a report on their findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers said eating more slowly could be a simple and effective way of tackling weight problems.
They said: ‘Research indicates eating quickly, gorging and binge eating have a substantial effect on being overweight.
‘Our results showed obese participants chewed less and ingested more quickly than lean ones. ‘
A survey of 1,000 people last year by the sandwich chain Subway showed the average person in Britain chews their food just six times before swallowing it.
It is thought chewing for longer prevents over-eating by giving the brain more time to receive signals from the stomach that it is full.
Food for thought: A survey by Subway found that the average Briton chews each mouthful just six times
Young, busy professionals in the 25-34 age group were the worst culprits.
The same survey found 15 per cent of people regularly ate a meal while walking and only half routinely sit down to eat at a table.
Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital, London, said although eating more slowly may have some effect on gut hormone levels, the benefits are more likely psychological.
‘When you gulp down your food, you don’t realise you’re eating so much.
‘But chewing for longer makes you more likely to notice the taste, smell and texture, which makes you more aware of what you’re eating and how much.
‘As a result, you’re less likely to feel hungry again ten minutes later.’

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