Teaching children to savour their food could help combat cancer, experts believe.
A study of British youngsters showed that the faster children eat, the fatter they are. As obesity raises the risk of at least five forms of cancer, something as simple as teaching children to eat slowly could have a huge impact on public health.
The researchers videoed more than 120 sets of twins between ten and 12 as they ate sandwiches and fruit salad. They worked out how many bites a minute the children took and compared this with their weight. Fastest eaters were the overweight children, at 4.3 bites a minute. Next came those on the heavy side of normal with 4.1 bites a minute. The thinnest youngsters took only 3.8 bites a minute, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports.
The study by Cancer Research UK's health behaviour research centre also suggested that genes influence our eating rates more than upbringing.
Professor Jane Wardle, the lead researcher, said: 'We are all different and the more we understand about our funny little propensities the better.'