I rarely meet a person that doesn’t like gum and even when I do, it’s usually that they don’t like one flavor over another. I always find myself chewing gum when I have it with me (as I’m writing this I am in fact chewing gum). There are many reasons why people chew gum. Some people chew gum to get rid of bad breath, others chew it because they believe it helps them concentrate more (check out my other blog on chewing gum and academic performance correlation!) and other simply chew gum because they enjoy it! How many people though would chew gum more if they knew it helped with their diet? I’ve heard rumors that chewing sugar-free gum helps your physical health and may even cause you to lose weight. After hearing that, I decided to do some research and see what I could figure out!
First off, let me explain the four situations we have here:
- Chewing sugar-free gum has a positive effect on your diet (direct causation).
- A good diet causes you to chew sugar-free gum (reverse causation).
- A third variable may cause you to chew sugar-free gum and improve your diet.
- The correlation between chewing sugar-free gum and improving your diet may just be due to chance alone.
Chris Gajilan’s article titled Chew on this: Gum may be good for body, mind, he mentions a student conducted at Louisiana State University. In this study, the researchers specifically chose 115 students who they knew chewed gum habitually. They then fed the students lunch. After lunch they found that students who chewed gum three times an hour after eating ate lunches with less calories. Those same students claimed they weren’t hungry as much either (Gajilan 2009). Although this is an experimental study, there still needs to be more studies conducted and evidence collected. There is always a chance that another variable besides chewing gum can have an effect on the food consumption.
According to WebMD, chewing gum can help you decrease your cravings for food. Zelman, writer of the article Diet Myth or Truth: Chewing Gum for Weight Loss, says that this doesn’t mean if all you do is chew gum, you’ll lose all the weight you want. You need to follow a diet on top of the gum chewing. Gum chewing is essentially just an extra thing to help out with your diet. If you’re adding gum to your diet, Zelman recommends that you try sugar-free gum because it has around 5 calories in comparison to a regular pack of gum that has around 10 calories. But she also warns us that like many things in the world, there is such thing as too much. If consumed too much, gum may have you spending a lot more time in the bathroom than expected to a laxative effect (Zelman 2010).
Similar to what was mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is said that sugar-free gum is the one people should chew if they want to try to lose weight. According to Tracii Hanes, writer of the article Does Chewing Sugar-Free Gum Help You Lose Weight?, sugar-free gum contains artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and xylitol. Although these two ingredients give the gum some taste, they also have an effect when consumed in large quantities. The laxative effect was mentioned above and basically what that means is that too much consumption of gum can actually cause irregular bowel movements. That being said, a very large consumption of gum will lead you to dispose of waste, while losing weight in the process (Hanes 2013). If you want to lose some weight (we are talking minimal weight here), then grab yourself a pack of sugar-free gum, but make you don’t eat too much.
According to the article Can Chewing Gum Help You Drop Pounds?, by Casey Gueren, chewing gum is found to have a negative effect on your diet. In the article Gueren includes a study from the University at Buffalo. In the experiment, 44 participants were put through three sessions. In the first session, the participants chewed mint gum, in the second session the participants chewed fruity gum and in the third session, the participants didn’t chew any gum (having this session act as the control). After each session, the people were asked a series of questions in regards to hunger and then given the choice to eat healthy or unhealthy food. According to the article, like other studies, people felt less hungry after the sessions of chewing gum. Here is where the problem appeared though. Although they were less hungry, they were found to have consumed less of the healthy foods (and the same of the junk food). The Women’sHealth article goes on to explain another experiment. Gueren explains that this experiment contained 54 participants who were told to document what they ate for the next few weeks. They were told to chew Ellipse gum for one week, Nutratrium gum for another week and no gum for the last week. According to the article, the studies found that participants consumed less snacks and nutrients but more calories. At the end of the study, researchers claimed that mint gum doesn’t taste good with fruits and vegetables so that’s why they were avoided more (Gueren 2013).
What I’d take away from this experiment is that although some studies have proven this to be true, there are still other studies that say sugar-free gum has no influence on your diet. Much more studies would need to be conducted in order to come to any final conclusions. There are also some harmful effects to consuming sugar-free gum (mostly when consuming too much) so putting yourself through situations like the laxative effect to lose weight might not be something you necessarily want to do. Right now, studies are inconclusive and vary too much to make a statement as to whether the correlation is causal or not. Don’t depend on gum to keep your diet going well and to help lose weight just yet!