If you want to lose weight, this trick might help. You automatically eat a little less if you chew gum, a bio-physiologist at Glasgow Caledonian University discovered.
The sensation of having food in our mouth suppresses appetite. Experiments in which subjects had to chew on sweets without swallowing them have shown this. So could chewing gum help people to eat less? That was the question that Marion Hetherington set out to answer in her study, which was published in Appetite in 2007.
Hetherington used 60 subjects for her experiment, all employees and students at the University of Liverpool. All test subjects had to report 4 times, and on each occasion they were given a lunch containing 25 percent of the daily caloric requirements.
One hour [T1] and two hours [T2] after the lunch the subjects were given a piece of gum to chew on for 15 minutes [Gum] or nothing [No gum]. Three hours after the lunch [T3] the subjects were given a bowl containing on one occasion candy [Sweet] or salty snacks [Salty]. They were allowed to each as much as they wanted.
The figure below shows that the subjects that had chewed gum ate fewer sweets. On average they ate 36 kcal or 8.2 percent less.
The figure above shows that chewing gum reduces feelings of hunger. That explains why the test subjects ate less.
The researchers let the subjects chose which chewing gum they wanted to eat. It made no difference whether they chose sugar-free or chewing gum containing sugar.
"Chewing gum may have positive health benefits for weight control", the researchers conclude. They do raise the question whether chewing gum becomes less effective the longer you use this trick, as the body may become accustomed to the chewing stimulus.
The research was funded by Wrigley, one of the world's biggest chewing gum manufacturers. The complete study is published on the company's website. [Link]