Can Chewing Gum Really Help You Lose Weight?
Chewing sugar-free gum may help you lose weight, according to a nutrition professor at the University of Rhode Island. The new study notes that chewing gum can help to reduce the number of calories you eat and increase your energy output.
According to the US Mint Industry, half of all Americans chew gum, and the average American chews about 300 sticks, or about 1.5 pounds of gum per year. Many people chew gum to help them resist eating, when they are trying to stop smoking, and when they are tense. The average person burns about 11 calories per hour when chewing gum.
In the University of Rhode Island study, Kathleen Melanson, associate professor of nutrition and food sciences, compared gum chewing to non-gum chewing in 35 adults. The subjects participated in two lab sessions in random order after fasting overnight. During one session, the subjects chewed gum for 20 minutes before they consumed a breakfast shake, then chewed gum two more times for 20 minutes each during the three hours before lunch.
During each visit, the researcher measured the resting metabolism rates and blood glucose levels of the subjects before and after breakfast and lunch. The participants also conducted self-assessments of their feelings of hunger, energy level, and other factors. Melanson reported that individuals who chewed gum before and after eating burned about 5 percent more energy than when they did not chew gum. The participants also said they felt more energetic after chewing gum.
The test results also showed that subjects who chewed gum for a total of one hour before lunch consumed 67 fewer calories at lunch than the subjects who did not chew gum. The gum chewers also did not make up for the fewer calories at lunch by eating more later in the day. One possible reason chewing gum might help with weight loss is that when people chew, the nerves in the muscles of the jaw are stimulated and send signals to the appetite area of the brain that is associated with satiety. Thus chewing gum might help to reduce feelings of hunger.
The results of this study suggest that chewing gum may help as part of a weight loss or management program. Additional studies will investigate gum chewing in people who need to lose weight.
University of Rhode Island press release, Oct. 27, 2009
US Mint Industry website