A happy baby sitting on a chair with a spoon in their hand

How children chew food is linked to weight and health

The way your children chew their food can have an impact on their health, according to a recent study by a team of researchers from the University of California and the National University of Mexico.

About the study

Researchers examined the eating habits of 54 children between the ages of 6 and 17 over a one-year period. Children were divided into two groups: those who chewed their food for a given amount of time and those who did not change their eating habits. CTV News reports that “the results found that waiting 30 seconds between each bite of food gives children the chance to realize when they are full, and prevents overeating, resulting in a significant difference between the weights of the compliant group and the non-compliant group.”

The study found that the children who were asked to eat slowly experienced a weight decrease of 3.4 kg at the end of the year. The group that did not change their habits experienced weight gain: their weight increased by 12.6 kg over the same period.

One of the significant implications of the study is that you can implement this method immediately. It doesn’t cost any money, and you can start with your next meal.

"You can adopt this slow eating approach for yourself and keep it up for the rest of your life," says a co-author of the study. "You can teach this approach to your children and they can teach it to their children in turn."

Additional studies will likely be conducted in the future with larger test groups.

Benefits of chewing food thoroughly

Slowing down how quickly you eat is beneficial to your health. Simply taking the time to chew your food more slowly can:

  • Improve digestion
  • Help you absorb nutrients more efficiently
  • Make it easier to maintain a healthy weight
  • Allow you to better enjoy the taste of food

Tips for getting your children to chew thoroughly

Although each child eats at their own pace and chews in a different manner, here are some tips to help you slow down how quickly your children eat:

  • Cut food into small pieces
  • Ask them to finish swallowing the food in their mouths before taking another bite
  • Ask them to sip water between bites
  • Talk with your children while they eat to slow down their overall pace

The big takeaway from the study is that children who take time to chew their food can avoid overeating and gaining unnecessary weight, without the need to change their diet.