KINGSTON, R.I. November 7, 2011 Two new studies by researchers at the University of Rhode Island are providing additional insights into the role that eating rate plays in the amount of food one consumes. The studies found that men eat significantly faster than women, heavier people eat faster than slimmer people, and refined grains are consumed faster than whole grains, among other findings.
Kathleen Melanson, URI associate professor of nutrition, along with graduate students Emily Ponte and Amanda Petty, presented their research at the annual meeting of The Obesity Society in Orlando this month.
In one laboratory study, which validated that self-reported eating rates reflect an individual's actual eating rate, Melanson and her lab team found that fast eaters consumed about 3.1 ounces of food per minute, medium-speed eaters consumed 2.5 ounces per minute, and slow eaters consumed 2 ounces per minute. This work is the first to validate self-reported eating rates that have been used in large population studies, which have shown relationships between eating rate and body weight.
The researchers also found what Melanson described as "very strong gender differences" in eating rates. At lunch, the men consumed about 80 calories per minute while the women consumed 52 calories per minute.
"The men who reported eating slowly ate at about the same rate as the women who reported eating quickly," said Melanson, director of the URI Energy Balance Laboratory.
The second study, which examined the characteristics associated with eating rates, found a close association between eating rate and body mass index (BMI), with those individuals with a high BMI typically eating considerably faster than those with a low BMI.
"One theory we are pursuing is that fast eating may be related to greater energy needs, since men and heavier people have higher energy needs," said Melanson.
In what Melanson called her favorite resu
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University of Rhode Island