Marlou Lasschuijt, an Assistant Professor in the Sensory Science and Eating Behavior group at Wageningen University, along with project partners, has recently released a new study titled “Speed Limits: The Effects of Industrial Food Processing and Food Texture on Daily Energy Intake and Eating Behavior in Healthy Adults” in the European Journal of Nutrition. The study aimed to ascertain the separate and combined impacts of food texture and the degree of industrial food processing (categorized according to the NOVA classification) on daily energy intake and eating behavior among healthy adults.
If you eat slowly, you will eat less.
RESTRUCTURE project partners studied whether eating slow or eating fast changes how much you eat of meals that are “homemade” (unprocessed food) or pre-made by food industry (processed food). Eighteen healthy people participated in the study. They came to the research eating behaviour diner room for breakfast, lunch and dinner and dessert. In between these meals they received snacks to consume on-the-go. Each participant joined for four test days, once they would receive the slow homemade diet, once the fast homemade diet, once the slow pre-made diet and once the fast pre-made diet. The slow and fast eating was manipulated by changing the texture of the food, harder foods are consumed slower compared to foods that are soft and do not need as much chewing when taking a bite.
During each test day, the researchers measured how much people ate by weighing their plates before and after eating (participants did not know this). To see whether people indeed ate slow or fast we video recorded them while consuming their meals. These videos were coded by the researchers for every bite, bite length or duration and chew. As we had intended, the slow meals were eaten slower compared to the fast meals. Across the day people ate between 14-33% % less when they ate slow compared to when they ate fast. People ate the most when they ate meals fast and that were pre-made by food industry as these were also the meals that people could consume the fastest. In the end we concluded that over a whole day people eat less of hard textured foods that they consume slowly.
In summary, the research uncovers a compelling link between food texture, processing levels, and our eating behaviour ultimately influencing how much we eat. This connection emphasizes the potential impact of seemingly subtle factors on our dietary intake.
Lasschuijt, M., Camps, G., Mars, M. et al. Speed limits: the effects of industrial food processing and food texture on daily energy intake and eating behaviour in healthy adults. Eur J Nutr (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-023-03202-z