Chewing gum fails to suppress hunger and puts people off fruit: Study

By Oliver Nieburg contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chewing gum could lead to unhealthy food choices, finds study.
Chewing gum could lead to unhealthy food choices, finds study.

Related tags: Food, Nutrition

Chewing gum has long been considered a potential appetite suppressant, but new research says there is no evidence it can control hunger and mint-flavored varieties may even deter people from healthy foods like fruit.

Writing in the journal Eating Behaviors, ​Christine Swoboda and Jenifer Temple from the University of Buffalo had hypothesized that chewing mint gum before meals would reduce energy intake more than chewing fruit gum or no gum at all.

The hypothesis

“If chewing gum has effects on food reinforcement, snack food intake, or energy intake, it could be a useful tool for those trying to lose weight,”​ they said.

However, the researchers found that chewing gum did not cut energy intake and in fact reduced people's propensity to eat healthy foods.

“These studies suggest that using chewing gum as a dietary aid may not be very useful, and may even be detrimental to health because of the effects it may have on food choice,”​ they concluded.

To reach their findings, the researchers conducted two experiments.

Experiment One

The first asked participants, 44 people aged 18-40, to chew different flavors of gum (mint, fruit, Wrigley's Eclipse or Gumrunners' Nutratrim) or no gum in a lab and got them to rate their hunger levels and food liking scales before and after chewing.

After chewing, the participants were also given a chance to choose between winning ‘unhealthy’ foods such as candy and potato chips or healthy foods such as fruits.

Researchers found that while people reported less hunger after chewing gum, there was a lower intake of healthy food after chewing mint gum compared to no gum condition. Healthy foods were also ranked lower after mint gum.

Experiment Two

The second experiment asked 44 people to chew the different gum types for two weeks before meals and asked them to keep a food diary.

The researchers found that people were more likely to consume extra energy during meals if they ate gum beforehand, while those not chewing gum would eat healthier.

One of the groups was asked to chew Nutratrim, a special ‘weight loss’ gum containing gurana, green tea extract, chromium picolinate and L-carnitine, but there was no significant decrease in calorie intake compared to not chewing gum at all.

A Wrigley-backed study had previously said that gum could reduce cravings for sweet and salty snacks. See HERE.

Eating Behaviors,​Vol, 14, Issue 2, April 2013, pp 149–156 
‘Acute and chronic effects of gum chewing on food reinforcement and energy intake’
Authors: Christine Swoboda, Jennifer L. Temple

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