Eating too fast overrides the mechanisms which tell our brains that we are full, explained study author Ian McDonald, a professor of metabolic physiology.
'Nerves send signals to the brain that the stomach is expanding,' McDonald was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
He said: 'At the same time, a hormone called ghrelin, produced when your stomach empties to trigger a hunger message, starts to decrease.
'It takes about 20 minutes after you start eating for the message to stop eating to reach your brain. Put simply, eat too quickly, and you’re likely to overfill your stomach and overeat.'
According to the researchers, many people develop these fast-eating habits as children, desperate to get away from the dinner table. 'It's amazing how these habits can be carried through to adulthood,' Prof McDonald said.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
A past study, carried out by researchers at the Osaka University in Japan, had found that wolfing down meals could double a person's risk of being overweight.
The study monitored the eating habits of 3,000 people and found fast-eating men were 84 per cent more likely to be overweight (women were just over twice as likely).
Another study conducted at the Medical University of South California had found that bolting down food could increase the risk of acid reflux, a stomach acid that allows the food or fluid to be tasted in the back of the mouth.