Can Eating Slower Affect My Spine?

Choose the health content that's right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox

Sit down, slow down and enjoy your meals.

Studies have linked certain eating behaviors with overweight and obesity, one of which is eating too fast. One large Japanese study explored a combination of eating habits and concluded that eating until full and eating quickly had a strong association with being overweight. A prospective Western study, also found that rapid eating can be associated with weight gain. This study resulted with over 42% of participants gaining 10 or more pounds over a 7 year period.

Taking the time to slow down and enjoy your meal can have a positive effect on your health. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that it is full. If you eat too quickly, you can over consume calories. Eating slower gives your stomach time to tell your brain "I've had enough" and if you listen, you won't feel over full or "stuffed" after meals.

A higher prevalence of low back pain has been shown to be present among those who are overweight. Studies are shifting from being exclusive to the cause of back pain in the obese to include interventions that promote weight loss and subsequently reduce back pain. Surgical intervention for weight loss, including gastroplasty and lap band procedures, have been shown to be accompanied by a significant improvement in low back pain. In addition, a recent study assessing the efficacy of non-surgical methods for weight-loss and reduction of back pain showed that conservative treatment options such as a medically supervised diet, exercise, and education show promise and warrant continued investigation.

Eating at a slower pace can send you on a path to maintaining a healthy weight and spine. Slowing down consumption is easy to say but harder to do! Here are some tips to help you slow down!

-Put your fork or utensil down between each bite. Using chopsticks can also slow your consumption.

-Chew each bite 20-25 times. This will also help with digestion since it begins in the mouth.

-Enjoy conversation and social time.

-When eating with a group, make sure you start eating after everyone else and pace yourself to finish last.

-Enjoy the texture and flavors in each bite.

As the saying goes "slow and steady wins the race".


Maruyama, K., Ohira, T., Maeda, K., Noda, H., Kubota, Y., Nishimura, S., et al. (2008). The joint impact on being overweight of self reported behaviours of eating quickly and eating until full: cross sectional survey. BMJ , 337.

Gerace, T., and George, V. (1996). Predictors of Weight Increases over 7 years in Fire Fighters and Paramedics. Preventative Medicine , 25, 593-600.

Urquhart, D., Berry, P., Wluka, A., Strauss, B., Wang, Y., Proietto, J., et al. (2011). 2011 Young Investigator Award Winner: Increased Fat Mass Is Associated With High Levels of Low Back Pain Intensity and Disability. Spine , 36 (16), 1320-1325.

Melissas, J., Volakakis, E., and Hadjipavlou, A. (2003). Low-Back Pain in Morbidly Obese Patients and the Effect of weight Loss Following Surgery. Obesity Surgery , 13, 389-393.

Ahroni, J., Montgomery, K., and Watkins, B. (2005). Laproscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding: Weight Loss, Co-morbidities, Medication Usage and Quality of Line at One Year. Obesity Surgery , 15, 641-647.

Roffey, D., Ashdown, L., Dornan, H., Creech, M., Dagenais, S., Dent, R., et al. (2011). Pilot evaluation of a multidisciplinary, medically supervised, nonsurgical weight loss program on the severity of low back pain in obese adults. The Spine Journal , 197-204.

Recent Blogs

A teenage athlete taking a break in the locker room.
Burnout in Youth Sports: How to Navigate Mental Exhaustion
A teenage boy with a frustrated expression looks out over the ocean.
Navigating the Pressure: Helping Young Athletes Manage Stress in Sports
Should I Have Bariatric Surgery in a Hospital?
Sharlene wrapping her hands up with tape.
Sharlene’s Transformation to Health and Happiness Through Bariatric Surgery
What Is DIEP Reconstruction Surgery?
View More Articles