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Chewing Gum Doesn't Lead to Weight Loss, Study Finds

Monday, 25 Mar 2013 11:09 AM

By Megan Anderle

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As many people pop a piece of Trident to stave off hunger pains or after a meal to boost metabolism, a new study out of Ohio State University debunks the notion that chewing gum can help people lose weight.

Though experts have said chewing gum can burn 11 calories per hour, the new study found that once people spit out their gum, they go on to eat just as much as people who don't chew. In the long run, smacking on gum is an unlikely weight loss tool, and more importantly, consuming gum may also lead to nutritional deficiencies, according to The Atlantic.

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In the study that was published in the April issue of the journal of Eating Behaviors, people were instructed to chew either NutraTrim Weight Loss Gum, which was touted as "boosting metabolism and helping to curb food cravings," or minty Eclipse gum before snacks and meals for a week. The participants kept track of everything they ate.

Their food diaries revealed that, compared to non-gum chewers, participants who chewed gum ate fewer, but larger, meals. Not only did they end up consuming about the same number of calories as non-chewers, but their meals were also less nutritious, according to The Atlantic.

A second experiment partially explained the findings; 44 participants played a game in which wins were rewarded with either mandarin oranges and grapes or potato chips and M&Ms. Half of the subjects chewed Wrigley's Spearmint gum or Juicy Fruit gum. The other half did not chew any gum at all.

Participants who chewed Wrigley's Spearmint gum were significantly less likely than non-chewers to keep competing for the fruit.

Participants who chewed Juicy Fruit showed a smaller effect that wasn't statistically significant.

Researchers believe the decreased motivation for the Wrigley's chewers occurred because of the minty-fresh menthol in the gum, which makes fruits and vegetables taste bitter. The experts believe this is why mint gum chewers were less likely to reach for a healthy snack in the first experiment.

The chemical change is the same reason why "when you brush your teeth and then drink orange juice, it tastes bad," said study co-author Christine Swoboda, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Ohio State University, according to Live Science.

There is good news for gum addicts, though.

In another study published in British Journal of Psychology in March, researchers found chewing gum can help people stay focused on tasks for longer and improve reaction times.

Previous research has shown that chewing gum can improve concentration in visual memory tasks. This study focused on the potential benefits of chewing gum during an audio memory task but bolstered those findings.

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Related links

4 Tips for Successful Weight Loss

Chewing Gum's Health Benefits

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