Chewing gum reduces cravings for sweet and salty snacks in between meals, and could aid appetite control, according to researchers.
This study, which was funded, in part, by the Wrigley Science Institute and published in the journal Appetite, concludes that chewing gum for at least 45 minutes suppresses hunger, appetite and cravings for snacks as well as promoting fullness.
The authors, based at the Institute of Psychological Sciences at the University of Leeds said that their study demonstrated that in “participants who are moderately restrained eaters, who are motivated to lose weight or maintain weight loss, chewing gum reduced desire for and intake of highly palatable sweet and salty snacks.”
They noted that studies looking at orosensory stimulation in the development of satiation have shown that chewing produces a greater reduction in food intake than the same energy provided as a drink or semi-solid.
Sweetened chewing gum, continue the authors, could be a useful part of a weight management programme in some individuals. “If consumers could satisfy cravings and feel less tempted by high energy snacks, gum may be a useful adjunct to weight control.”
However, the researchers caution that “since energy balance is achieved over a long period of time, the effects of repeated exposure to gum within a weight loss programme is necessary to assess its influence on weight management within a controlled, clinical trial.”
The study tested the hypothesis that chewing sweetened gum will reduce subjective appetite and subsequent snack intake in moderately restrained eaters.
The authors said that 60 healthy participants (53 women) came to the laboratory on four occasions for a standard lunch.
They explained that for eligibility, participants had to be aged between 18 and 55 years of age, not be underweight, have a full set of teeth in good repair, not be pregnant or breastfeeding, be in good health with no allergies to gum and not be taking medications likely to influence appetite and food intake.
“Only volunteers who reported snacking and chewing gum regularly were recruited into the experiment, since consumers who do not regularly chew gum may have found the experiment novel or even unpleasant.
Similarly consumers who regularly snack were recruited since part of the rationale was to test the efficacy of chewing gum in resisting the temptation to consume high energy, highly palatable available snack foods,” added the researchers.
Immediately after eating lunch, participants were asked to rate hunger, appetite and cravings for sweet and salty snacks every hour until they returned to the laboratory three hours later.
On two occasions during this three hour period participants chewed gum for at least 15 minute at hourly intervals (45 minutes) and on two occasions no gum was chewed.
The researcher explained that on two occasions salty snacks were offered and on two occasions sweet snacks were provided.
A small but significant reduction in snack intake was observed. The authors note “chewing gum reduced weight of snack consumed by 10 per cent compared to no gum.”
They conclude that their study demonstrated some benefit of chewing gum which could be of utility to those seeking an aid to appetite control.
Another Wrigley-backed study, reported to the annual US Obesity Society gathering in 2009, claimed chewing gum helped to reduce calorie intake and burn up energy.
According to author Kathleen Melanson, associate professor of nutrition and food sciences at University of Rhode Island (URI), nerves in the muscles of the jaw are stimulated by the motion of chewing and send signals to the appetite section of the brain that is linked to satiety, which may explain why the act of chewing might help to reduce hunger.
The study's results show that when the study subjects chewed gum for a total of one hour in the morning (three 20-minute gum-chewing sessions), they consumed 67 fewer calories at lunch and did not compensate by eating more later in the day.
The nutritionist also reported that the male participants also reported feeling significantly less hungry after chewing the gum.
Title: Effects of chewing gum on short-term appetite regulation in moderately restrained eaters
Authors: M. M. Hetherington, M. F. Regan