Ever wondered why it takes longer to eat some meals instead of others? For years researchers have known that eating faster promotes increased energy intake, but can we change people’s eating behaviours using the sensory properties of the foods they consume? Researchers in the RESTRUCTURE project aim to better understand how food texture and eating rate can be used to moderate the rate and extent of energy consumed.
As part of the project, PhD researcher Lise Heuven has just published a new study “Al dente or well done” in the journal Food Quality and Preference where she dives deep into the factors that moderate the rate of eating of mixed dishes. In her study, Lise showed that the addition of sauce and decreasing the hardness of penne and carrots, increased the eating rate of a pasta dish. The study was the first to compare different models to predict the eating rate of a dish, using the eating rates of the components. The findings highlight that eating rate is driven by the sum of the eating rates of a mixed dish, rather than the eating rate of the slowest component. These findings have important implications in the design of mixed dishes that aim to target slowing down (or speeding up!) the rate of consumption of a meal. Further details of the study can be found here.
What are the next steps for RESTRUCTURE?
Understanding the key texture properties that drive meal eating rate will help to inform the design of test meals for the main RESTRUCTURE trial, which is scheduled to start late 2023. The goal of this trial is to use meal textures to provide participants with diets that can be consumed ‘slowly’ or ‘quickly’, and compare whether this results in differences in energy consumed over a 2 week period. These findings will be used to better understand what moderates energy intakes in the modern food environment, and to use this knowledge to design meal textures that slow the rate of intake and mitigate the risk over consumption.
Heuven, L. A. J., de Graaf, K., Forde, C. G., & Bolhuis, D. P. (2023). Al dente or well done? How the eating rate of a pasta dish can be predicted by the eating rate of its components. Food Quality and Preference, 104883. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2023.104883