Background: Because most studies about the relationship between eating quickly and overweight/obesity have been cross-sectional, it is necessary to investigate prospectively the influence of eating quickly on anthropometric variables in order to examine the causal relationship. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of eating quickly on anthropometric variables among schoolgirls in a prospective cohort study.
Methods: We investigated 427 non-overweight/obese schoolgirls from fourth grade (aged 9 or 10 years) in Ina-town, Japan from 2004 to 2006. Physical examinations and a questionnaire survey were conducted in fourth grade and 3 years later (in seventh grade). Height, weight, percent body fat (%BF) and waist circumference (WC) were measured in physical examinations, and information on eating speed was collected in a questionnaire survey.
Results: The differences in anthropometric variables (body mass index, %BF, WC and waist-to-height ratio) between fourth and seventh grade were significantly greater in girls who continued to eat quickly from fourth to seventh grade than in those who did not continue to eat quickly during this 3-year period. In contrast, these differences were not statistically significant in girls who ate quickly in fourth grade but not in seventh grade compared with those who did not continue to eat quickly during the 3-year period.
Conclusion: Eating quickly was associated with excess gains in anthropometric variables. The present study also suggested that stopping a habit of eating quickly prevents these excess gains in non-overweight/obese girls, which could contribute to the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity.
© The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.