A recent study finds that chewing gum does not lead to weight loss, contradictory to what was previously believed. It actually contributes to weight gain.The study published in the April edition of Eating Behaviors journal was led by Christine Swoboda, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Ohio State University.
“We were interested in seeing ‘Does this really help with weight loss?'” Swoboda told LiveScience.
Co-researcher Jennifer Temple from the University at Buffalo, and Swoboda asked 44 volunteers to participate in a game involving them to chew Juicy Fruit or Wrigley’s Spearmint gum in exchange for fruits or potato chips and M&M’s.
The participants who chewed spearmint were far less likely to take a bite of fruit, meaning they were not motivated to eat fruit while chewing gum.
They subsequently asked the volunteers to keep a journal entry of food for a second experiment where they were asked to chew minty gum before every meal and a snack for one week. They also had to record what they ate.
The results showed that those who chewed gum ate less meals, but not fewer calories. Rather both groups were getting the same amount of calories, but those who chewed gum got less nutrients.
The reason behind this is the taste of menthol in mint, which creates a bitter flavor after you chew on fruit or vegetables. This could be why people choose chips and cookies over the grapes and oranges, to avoid the minty taste.
They “ate less fruits and vegetables, because in their head, they thought ‘I have to chew gum before every meal – do I really want a snack of grapefruit?'” Swoboda said. “Whereas, they were like, ‘I’m so hungry I’m going to eat this double cheeseburger and it will taste the same.'”
A 2009 study from Wrigley’s, which manufactures Extra gum, actually said their sugar-free brand of gum could help people cut their calorie intake. But it was recommended that the public not change their diets as more research was needed.
However, benefits of chewing gum were recently reported in the British Journal of Psychology, where researchers found it improved concentration in students by increasing the flow of oxygen to parts of the brain involved in attention span and reflexes.
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