Slowing eating rate appears to be an effective strategy for reducing food intake. This feasibility study investigated the effect of eating rate on post-meal responses using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), plasma gastrointestinal hormone concentrations, appetite ratings, memory for recent eating, and snack consumption. Twenty-one participants (mean age 23 years with healthy body mass index) were randomly assigned to consume a 600 kcal meal at either a "normal" or "slow" rate (6 vs. 24 min). Immediately afterwards, participants rated meal enjoyment and satisfaction. FMRI was performed 2-h post-meal during a memory task about the meal. Appetite, peptide YY, and ghrelin were measured at baseline and every 30 min for 3 h. Participants were given an ad-libitum snack three hours post-meal. Results were reported as effect sizes (Cohen's d) due to the feasibility sample size. The normal rate group found the meal more enjoyable (effect size = 0.5) and satisfying (effect size = 0.6). Two hours post-meal, the slow rate group reported greater fullness (effect size = 0.7) and more accurate portion size memory (effect sizes = 0.4), with a linear relationship between time taken to make portion size decisions and the BOLD response in satiety and reward brain regions. Ghrelin suppression post-meal was greater in the slow rate group (effect size = 0.8). Three hours post-meal, the slow rate group consumed on average 25% less energy from snacks (effect size = 0.5). These data offer novel insights about mechanisms underlying how eating rate affects food intake and have implications for the design of effective weight-management interventions.
Keywords: appetite hormones; eating rate; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); meal enjoyment; memory for recent eating; satiety.