During high school, my best friend started to chew gum during class in order to eat less in breaks. Well, I never found out if what she was doing actually worked or not. However, she believed that with exercise and skipping some meals she will loose weight faster. I noticed that in a couple of months she did not loose weight, but I was intrigued about the effects of chewing gum and why do people think of it as a solution to overweight. So the question is, is chewing gum an effective method to loose appetite?
Does gum make people loose their appetite? Reverse causation needs to be eliminated due to the time factor. What I mean by this, is that the hypothesis could not be tested because time needs to pass in order to notice whether chewing gum has an effect on hunger or not. Furthermore, is there a third variable that influences both gum intake and food intake? But there is always a possibility that it is due to chance as well.
I decided to do some research about the effects of gum and found out two studies conducted by the University of Buffalo. According to one of the studies, chewing gum affects the intake of food. The experiment conducted consisted in participants from the age of 18 to 50. Within these range there were 24 men and 30 women who were randomly chosen to be in either a non chewer or chewer group. This experiment was held during a two week period. The gum chewing group was given either Nutratrim gum (fruit) and Eclipse gum (mint). They were given a pill box to put the gums they chewed and a handbook that contained eating habits questionnaires to record what they ate. Results were given not by a specific gender but by the types of gum each individual ate or not. According to researchers men and women had a very similar reaction when it came to hunger, so they decided to disregard gender. I believe that scientists were right in basing their results on the different types of gum and not take gender into account since gender appears to be a factor that does not alter the results in any possible way.
The experiment had a control group, the no gum individuals, and two arms of study that were either fruit gum chewers or mint gum chewers. During two weeks there were two checkins, in which researchers held the data of the questionnaires and the weight of the participants. The results are demonstrated in the three figures below. Clearly there is a correlation between gum and appetite. There was a significant effect that indicated that neither fruit nor mint gum made people eat less, but the no gum control group demonstrated a more accurate nutrition. The food in their meals was more balanced than those who chewed gum (as you can see in Figure C). Furthermore, researchers did not find a major weight loss in the participants who chewed gum. But did find that the nutrition of an individual who chews gum frequently is very different from that of person who doesn’t. Also, the study was a random trial, since they had people from diverse races, gender, marital status, income, and education. However, they did control confounding variables through a survey that determined the participants eligibility. These variables were health, diet and prior chewing gum habits. Furthermore, the probability of chance for Figure C was 0.05, which indicates that it is very unlikely that the results are due to chance, meaning that chewing gum actually affects the nutrition of a person.
I decided to look more into it and found a study by the Ohio State University. The Atlantic mentions how a group of 44 participants in the study were told to choose between fruit or chocolate after a 45 minute period of time chewing gum. The participants that had chewed on mint gum were less likely to eat fruit than the ones who chewed fruit gum, but still all participants felt hungry after chewing. The results indicated that people who chew gum will later crave for unhealthy food that will influence on them to make unhealthy choices in their diet.
In my opinion chewing gum could indicate an unhealthy lifestyle. However, since many people chew gum it would be life changing to conclude that it is unhealthy. Therefore, replication of the study and meta analyses is needed. The experiment proves that there is not a meaningful change in the amount of calories consumed by an individual but the nutrition of a person does. So the conclusion would be a false positive, the hypothesis was rejected but there is definitely something going on. So the myth that eating more gum causes weight loss is not true. As said in class the lack of science affects the life and health of many people. There are alternate ways to loose weight that are certainly more effective than relying on gum since it actually makes the diet of a person become weaker and lack of nutrients. Here is an article from TIME Magazine that explains why some methods work better than others, and how fat cells react when a person stops eating regularly. Actually, strict diets will make cells have a drastic reaction and will make your body store calories that will later become fat. Exercise and nutritious meals are the best way in which a man or woman can stay in shape.