The new weapon in the war against fat is a ‘talking plate’, which tells you to slow down if you’re eating too quickly. This may seem slightly crazy but there’s plenty of research that shows people who gobble their food tend to put on more weight than those who give each mouthful the traditional 32 chews.
When researchers in Japan investigated the eating habits of 3,000 people, they found that men who wolfed down their food were a staggering 84% more likely to be overweight.
The reason for this is very simple. It takes the stomach nearly 30 minutes to tell the brain that it’s getting full of food. So in half an hour of fast eating, it’s possible to consume enormous numbers of calories without the brain actually being aware of it.
We all have a hormone called ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant and is produced when the stomach is empty. It switches off when your tummy fills up with food.
The travel time of this chemical to the brain is about half an hour and it’s that long before the brain realises you’ve overeaten. It’s obvious that a fast eater can get through many more calories than a slow eater in that time.
Made in Sweden, the talking plate costs around £1,500 and consists of two parts, a scale that sits under the plate and a small computer screen.
The screen displays a red line indicating the speed at which you’re eating and a blue line for comparison, showing the healthy eating rate. If the lines separate too much the machine will tell you to slow down.
The talking plate is going to be tested by Bristol University on 600 families in which one adult and one child is clinically obese.
And the signs so far are good. In previous trials, adolescents who used the plate ate between a sixth and an eighth less per meal and were still eating less six months after using the talking plate.
So it can encourage good eating habits in the long term - and that’s so important in the battle against obesity.