Retailers and CPG can help brake our fast eating and weight gain

Articles
May 28, 2009

Retailers and CPG can help brake our fast eating and weight gain

Is it any surprise that Americans that relish hot dog eating contests (aired on ESPN) where the winner downs dozens in a matter of 12 minutes, have some problems with proper eating and weight gain? Our celebration of speed and eating is misplaced, suggests an Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development’s Society at a Glance report that shows people in France spend more than 130 minutes a day eating (second only to Turkey among 18 countries studied), yet have one of the lowest obesity rates among developed nations. “There does seem to be some correlation,” the New York Times noted, between time spent eating per day and the national obesity rate. The United States, for example, clocks in at less than 80 minutes a day eating, yet has the highest Body Mass Index (BMI) average; nearly 35% of the nation’s population has a BMI greater than 30, according to the OECD chart. Mexico spends the least time eating (less than 70 minutes) and has the second-highest average at 30% of their population above a BMI of 30. The United Kingdom, Australia and Canada all spend less than 90 minutes a day eating and come in third, fourth and sixth positions in BMI. The OECD average was 100 minutes a day eating and 15% of populace with a BMI above 30. This implies plenty about the fast-food drive-thrus that dot our roads, and our nation’s dependency on automotive transport.

Is it any surprise that Americans that relish hot dog eating contests (aired on ESPN) where the winner downs dozens in a matter of 12 minutes, have some problems with proper eating and weight gain?

Our celebration of speed and eating is misplaced, suggests an Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development’s Society at a Glance report that shows people in France spend more than 130 minutes a day eating (second only to Turkey among 18 countries studied), yet have one of the lowest obesity rates among developed nations.

“There does seem to be some correlation,” the New York Times noted, between time spent eating per day and the national obesity rate.  The United States, for example, clocks in at less than 80 minutes a day eating, yet has the highest Body Mass Index (BMI) average; nearly 35% of the nation’s population has a BMI greater than 30, according to the OECD chart.  Mexico spends the least time eating (less than 70 minutes) and has the second-highest average at 30% of their population above a BMI of 30.  The United Kingdom, Australia and Canada all spend less than 90 minutes a day eating and come in third, fourth and sixth positions in BMI.  The OECD average was 100 minutes a day eating and 15% of populace with a BMI above 30.

This implies plenty about the fast-food drive-thrus that dot our roads, and our nation’s dependency on automotive transport.

But food retailers and manufacturers can do a lot, we believe, to help retrain consumers from their speed-eating habits and subsequent weight gain.  They can encourage slower food preparation and dining through signage or tear-off pads and articles on their websites. A sampler of ideas they could suggest:
•    Chew more. Digestion starts in the mouth, so the more time you spend chewing each bite, the better your body can digest all of the wonderful nutritious components of the meal.
•    Take smaller bites and savor your meal longer.
•    Be mindful of what you are eating. Try not to eat in front of the TV or computer, which distract.
•    Eat slower. Appreciate the taste of your food more. And be able to recognize when you are full.
•    Make time for sit-down meals with family and friends as a regular routine. Think ahead to prepare healthier meals.
•    Prepare meals from scratch at home, or combine home-made and ready-made, following recipes that suggest great combinations.
•    Include children in food preparation to teach about proper cooking and food handling techniques, and desirable nutrition.