Does Chewing Gum Help with Weight Loss?

Does Chewing Gum Help with Weight Loss?
4.54 (90.77%) 39 votes

If extra chewing is effective in suppressing your appetite when it comes to food, what about chewing gum as a weight loss strategy?

Discuss
Republish

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Chewing gum may only burn about three calories an hour, but the calorie expenditure is not just your little jaw muscles at work. For some reason, gum chewing revs up your heart rate, as much as an extra 12 beats per minute after chewing two sticks of gum. Here’s your heart rate and blood pressure five minutes before you start chewing; then chewing for five minutes; then you stop. That was them just sitting quietly. It also works while walking, increasing your heart rate by about three beats more per minute. And proving scientifically that people can indeed walk and chew gum at the same time.

But does this translate into weight loss?

Researchers at the University of Buffalo asked study participants to go for weeks chewing gum before every single eating occasion, or chew no gum at all. On the gum-chewing weeks, they didn’t just have to chew gum before each meal, but before each snack or even each drink that had any calories in it. This may have been too much for folks, so they actually ended up eating on fewer occasions, switching from four meals a day on average down closer to three. But they ended up eating more calories at each of those fewer meals; and so, had no overall significant change in calorie intake and, no surprise, had “no change” in weight.

University of Alabama researchers tried a different tack, randomizing people to chew gum after and between meals. After two months, compared to those randomized to avoid gum entirely, no improvements were noted in weight, BMI, or waist circumference. But what about those few studies that suggested gum chewing had an appetite-suppressing effect? In this study, people ate 68 calories fewer calories of pasta at lunch after 20 minutes of gum chewing. Yeah, but other studies showed differently.

Whenever there are conflicting findings, instead of just throwing your hands up, it can be useful to try to tease out any study differences that could potentially account for the disparate results. The obvious consideration is funding source. This was a publicly funded study, but that failed Alabama weight loss study was funded by a gum company. So, the outcomes are not necessarily predetermined.

Different types of gum using different sweeteners may have contributed to the diversity of findings. That one study showing gum chewing instead may actually increase appetite, for example, was done with aspartame-sweetened gum. People reported feeling hungrier after chewing the sweetened gum, not only compared to no gum, but compared to chewing the same gum with no added aspartame. True, not a single randomized controlled trial has ever shown a benefit to gum chewing, but they’ve all used gum containing artificial sweeteners.

There was a landmark study that showed that “sip size” matters. Have people drink at the same rate, but give them a sip every two seconds or a quadruple-sized gulp every eight seconds, and the smaller sip group won out, satiating after about one-and-a-half cups, compared to two cups when taking larger swigs. This is thought to be because of increased “oro-sensory exposure”—your brain is picking up the more frequent pulses of flavor and calories. But repeat the experiment with an artificially-sweetened diet drink, and the effect appears to be blunted. So, maybe a different type of gum would have a different effect? The positive pasta study was performed using gum mainly sweetened with sorbitol, a sweet compound found naturally in foods like prunes—but, like prunes, can have a laxative effect.

Case reports like this: “An air stewardess with puzzling diarrhoea” unveil what can happen when you eat 60 sticks of sorbitol-sweetened sugar-free gum a day. Another was entitled: “Severe weight loss caused by chewing gum,” but not in a good way. A 21-year-old woman ended up malnourished after suffering up to a dozen bouts of diarrhea a day for eight months due to the 30 grams of sorbitol she was getting chewing sugar-free gum and candies every day. Most people suffer gas and bloating at 10 grams of sorbitol a day, which is about eight sticks of sorbitol-sweetened gum, and at 20 grams, most get cramps and diarrhea. So, you want to be careful how much you eat.

The bottom line is that we have no good science showing gum-chewing results in weight loss. Could that be because the studies used artificial sweeteners that “may have counteracted” any benefits? Could be, but “the most obvious” explanation for the results to date “is that chewing gum simply is not an efficacious weight-loss strategy”— and that’s coming from researchers funded by the gum company itself.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Lusheeta via Wikimedia. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Chewing gum may only burn about three calories an hour, but the calorie expenditure is not just your little jaw muscles at work. For some reason, gum chewing revs up your heart rate, as much as an extra 12 beats per minute after chewing two sticks of gum. Here’s your heart rate and blood pressure five minutes before you start chewing; then chewing for five minutes; then you stop. That was them just sitting quietly. It also works while walking, increasing your heart rate by about three beats more per minute. And proving scientifically that people can indeed walk and chew gum at the same time.

But does this translate into weight loss?

Researchers at the University of Buffalo asked study participants to go for weeks chewing gum before every single eating occasion, or chew no gum at all. On the gum-chewing weeks, they didn’t just have to chew gum before each meal, but before each snack or even each drink that had any calories in it. This may have been too much for folks, so they actually ended up eating on fewer occasions, switching from four meals a day on average down closer to three. But they ended up eating more calories at each of those fewer meals; and so, had no overall significant change in calorie intake and, no surprise, had “no change” in weight.

University of Alabama researchers tried a different tack, randomizing people to chew gum after and between meals. After two months, compared to those randomized to avoid gum entirely, no improvements were noted in weight, BMI, or waist circumference. But what about those few studies that suggested gum chewing had an appetite-suppressing effect? In this study, people ate 68 calories fewer calories of pasta at lunch after 20 minutes of gum chewing. Yeah, but other studies showed differently.

Whenever there are conflicting findings, instead of just throwing your hands up, it can be useful to try to tease out any study differences that could potentially account for the disparate results. The obvious consideration is funding source. This was a publicly funded study, but that failed Alabama weight loss study was funded by a gum company. So, the outcomes are not necessarily predetermined.

Different types of gum using different sweeteners may have contributed to the diversity of findings. That one study showing gum chewing instead may actually increase appetite, for example, was done with aspartame-sweetened gum. People reported feeling hungrier after chewing the sweetened gum, not only compared to no gum, but compared to chewing the same gum with no added aspartame. True, not a single randomized controlled trial has ever shown a benefit to gum chewing, but they’ve all used gum containing artificial sweeteners.

There was a landmark study that showed that “sip size” matters. Have people drink at the same rate, but give them a sip every two seconds or a quadruple-sized gulp every eight seconds, and the smaller sip group won out, satiating after about one-and-a-half cups, compared to two cups when taking larger swigs. This is thought to be because of increased “oro-sensory exposure”—your brain is picking up the more frequent pulses of flavor and calories. But repeat the experiment with an artificially-sweetened diet drink, and the effect appears to be blunted. So, maybe a different type of gum would have a different effect? The positive pasta study was performed using gum mainly sweetened with sorbitol, a sweet compound found naturally in foods like prunes—but, like prunes, can have a laxative effect.

Case reports like this: “An air stewardess with puzzling diarrhoea” unveil what can happen when you eat 60 sticks of sorbitol-sweetened sugar-free gum a day. Another was entitled: “Severe weight loss caused by chewing gum,” but not in a good way. A 21-year-old woman ended up malnourished after suffering up to a dozen bouts of diarrhea a day for eight months due to the 30 grams of sorbitol she was getting chewing sugar-free gum and candies every day. Most people suffer gas and bloating at 10 grams of sorbitol a day, which is about eight sticks of sorbitol-sweetened gum, and at 20 grams, most get cramps and diarrhea. So, you want to be careful how much you eat.

The bottom line is that we have no good science showing gum-chewing results in weight loss. Could that be because the studies used artificial sweeteners that “may have counteracted” any benefits? Could be, but “the most obvious” explanation for the results to date “is that chewing gum simply is not an efficacious weight-loss strategy”— and that’s coming from researchers funded by the gum company itself.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Lusheeta via Wikimedia. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

If you missed the previous video, check out How Many Calories Do You Burn Chewing Gum?

Some videos on both artificial and natural low-calorie sweeteners:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

57 responses to “Does Chewing Gum Help with Weight Loss?

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

  1. I don’t chew gum, so this video is sort of irrelevant for me. But it did show what a true “scientist” Dr Greger is! If one gets conflicting results from different studies, the true scientist delves further to try to find out why. Also, interesting to note that not all industry funded studies are biased.

  2. Well, the main take away I am going to think about is that people got more hungry with the wrong gum.

    They used to tell people to eat gum to curtail in-between meal snacking.

    The fact that it is going to make them hungry sounds like bad wisdom.

    Also, people going off smoking often switch to gum chewing and they have problems with weight gain.

  3. I used to be a big-time in-between meal snacker and that was when I chewed gum.

    It doesn’t lower the calorie intake at meals, but if it is lowering the number of times people eat Oreos or Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or if it prevents a dish of ice cream after dinner, that part was why it was recommended as a strategy. That part might work?

    1. The tactic that works to prevent me from snacking is not chewing gum, but brushing my teeth. When my mouth feels clean, I don’t want to get it dirty again by eating, and I don’t want to have to go through the trouble of brushing and flossing again afterwards either.

      1. Yes, brushing teeth works better.

        It helped me decrease coffee intake, too.

        But when you are out to eat or at work, gum helped my coworker not eat after-lunch snacks and my ex-smoker friend, it helped her versus sucking on lollipops all day, when she gave up smoking.

  4. So gum chewing is a bust as an effective weight loss solution? If only there was an effective diet that required rolling my eyes………

    1. Reality Bites,

      I will say that some of us switched from junk food vegetarian to no sugar, no oil, low salt very close to vegan, almost Whole Food Plant Based and only lost 8 pounds in a year and a half. (Which is probably a year and 8 months, I think)

      I went to great big salads with no oil dressing and berries in non-dairy yogurt and rye crisps with no-oil hummus and I am one of the ones who would have really liked it if gum accomplished something.

      It looks like I am going to have to up my exercise. I am waiting a few more weeks before trying it that way.

      1. I just find it absurd the idea of flapping one’s jaws would be considered a viable exercise. Might as well have Olympic Eye Rolling events.

    2. Flies. Try catching and eating flies reality bites. It takes a lot of rapid eye and hand movements to catch flies. Low calorie snack too.

  5. What about Nicotine gum for weight loss… most people who smoke cigarettes have a normal BMI, supposedly from the nicotine. By chewing the gum you don’t get the tar like from the smoke. I would like to see a video identifying the effect of the components of tobacco when not smoked. Just wondering if a mild nicotine chewing gum might help with weight loss. Walking through a Wal Mart or fast food place and seeing the customers just has me wondering if a little nicotine might be better than becoming “two tons of fun” ‘-)

    1. Lonie,

      I do know that smokers do think about weight gain versus smoking all the time.

      That is one of the biggest reasons some of the women don’t quit and one of my friends did gain almost 100 pounds after she stopped smoking. Eating replaced cigarettes. I don’t think she wants to go back to smoking though.

      She is one of the ones who went Keto.

      1. Nicotine increases risk for adominal aortic aneurysms.
        ————————————————————————–

        Thanks for muddying the waters FF. I hope this from your link will clear things up.

        Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) usually occur naturally in the infrarenal part in the human abdominal aorta. In men aged 65–80 years, the prevalence of AAAs is between 4% and 8% and approximately six times greater in men than women [1, 2]. An AAA is a permanent localized dilatation of the abdominal aorta (beginning at the level of the diaphragm and extending to its bifurcation into the left and right common iliac arteries in human) that exceeds the normal diameter by 50%, or >3 cm [3].

        The primary risk factors of AAAs include family history, smoking, increasing age, male gender, central obesity, and low HDL-cholesterol levels [2, 4]. Hypertension (systolic BP > 160 mmHg, diastolic BP > 95 mmHg) is associated with the AAA risk, but only in women [5]. Diabetes, a well-defined risk factor for atherosclerosis, has been shown to be protective against the AAAs [6–8].

        1. Since the long term safety and efficacy of NRT and nicotine chewing gum has not been demonstrated, pointing out that nicotine consumption may increase the risk for AAA is hardly ‘muddying the waters’. it’s something that people might like to know.

          ‘The methodical and thorough study by Wang et al. implies that nicotine itself is a major driver of the pathogenesis of AAA in humans. These findings have important ramifications for clinical care, because smokers who are attempting to quit or are hospitalized for medical or surgical treatment are often treated with nicotine-replacement therapy. In addition, these findings have important implications for our understanding of the pathogenesis of other tobacco-related diseases, in which nicotine’s worst effects are often thought to be its addictive properties. Although other components of tobacco smoke are clearly major contributors to the development of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, the role of nicotine (and potentially nicotine replacement) in driving these diseases warrants further study.

          S. Wang et al., Activation of AMP-activated protein kinase α2 by nicotine instigates formation of abdominal aortic aneurysms in mice in vivo. Nat. Med. 18, 902–910 (2012). [PubMed]’
          https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/4/144/144ec133

          1. I think the data I quoted is more relevant to the average reader of this comments section. Those who are anal about reading study-speak will of course be happy to rubber stamp the obfuscation you posted. ‘-)

            1. Yes, anybody who disagrees with you is simply ‘muddying the waters’ and guilty of ‘obfuscation’.

              Perhaps people can read the two papers I linked, and read your opinions, and make up their minds for themselves?

              1. Yes, anybody who disagrees with you is simply ‘muddying the waters’ and guilty of ‘obfuscation’.
                ——————————————————————————————————————————–
                Not “anybody”… just you and so far just this one time. But I reserve the right to characterize you in those terms if you commit those sins in the future. ‘-)

                  1. I quite enjoy a bit of ‘robust discussion’ myself!
                    ————————————————————
                    That’s good… if we were just here to provide information, well, we might be mistaken for Number 6 even though neither of us could pass for Patrick McGoohan. ‘-)

  6. I’ve heard dr. Greger mentioned that all animals are born with the same number of heartbeats. Would an accelerated heart rate of 12 beats per minute due to a lifestyle of chewing gum results in a shortened life span? Particularly if it provides no obvious cardiovascular benefit?

    1. I’ve heard dr. Greger mentioned that all animals are born with the same number of heartbeats. Would an accelerated heart rate of 12 beats per minute due to a lifestyle of chewing gum results in a shortened life span? Particularly if it provides no obvious cardiovascular benefit?
      —————————————————————————————————————————————————–
      Nasser, maybe that once held true, but with the science we have now in studies and will have available to us all in the future, heart stem cells can renew the heart so we have a like new organ. This should prove true for most if not all our vital organs.

      1. Tom,

        Thanks for posting the studies.

        I genuinely appreciate all of your input on this site. I end up reading the studies and some of them are still way above my head, but the other day, I noticed that I recognized so much of the vocabulary words in one study that I know that I really am learning more by doing the extra credit homework on top of the videos.

  7. Interesting studies on chewing gum! Some more questions: what positive effects might CG have? Good for the bloodflow to the brain? Good for dental health if sugar free or with xylitol?

  8. I’m going to “gum” up the discussion forum for a minute and put in a plug for the How Not To Die Cookbook. Here are a few comments on some recipes:

    Meat Loaf, p. 156
    The biggest problem with this recipe is getting it thick enough to look like the picture (it’s too loose unless you go out of your way to thicken it). I follow the recipe exactly, but I add at least 1 cup of coffee-grinder ground old fashioned rolled oats in the mix. Then it comes out like a ground-beef meatloaf. Don’t expect it to taste like Mom’s old fashioned beef-loaf though.

    Raspberry Peach Crisp, p. 195
    I’ve been dying to try this and finally did two weeks ago. It’s very good, but too sweet for my liking when it’s warm. Turns out the sweet sensors in your tongue are less responsive to sweetness when food is cold – that’s why there’s so much sugar in ice cream and soda pop. So it tastes less sweet when it’s cold. I think it tastes better cold anyway. Stick it in the fridge overnight. Good recipe to bring over for a family gathering.

    Fudgy No Bake Brownies, p. 198
    Again, it’s not exactly like Mom’s 20th century high-fat recipe, but it’s pretty good. Make sure it’s cold before serving.

    1. Boy, that meatloaf will be one I do try.

      It sounds good after 5 months of salad.

      September and October will be my first potatoes and root vegetables.

      November through the Spring will be recipes like that.

      I am afraid of the brownies though.

      I used to be a junk food junkie. I haven’t had things like brownies other than holidays in 2 years+.

      I may try those at Christmas. No-bake sounds my speed.

      1. I haven’t had potatoes in such a long time, but a lot of people have recipes up and it will be so nice to lower my grocery bill.

    2. dr cobalt, this ‘meatloaf’ got great reviewshttps://www.noracooks.com/vegan-meatloaf/#wprm-recipe-container-1290
      I would probably use my own topping though, or bar b q sauce. And I spied a tempting little pic of some terrific looking brownies lower on the page. Think I’ll have just a peek at how they made them…

    1. Laughing.

      Never tried that.

      I did rescue a bird who got stuck in wet tar once.

      I got enough off so that it could fly.

      Don’t know if the other birds would kill it or not.

  9. Personally, I like chewing a xylitol gum (Spry) 2 pieces mid morning and midafternoon and find it helps decease my appetite and the stress I feel from work. I find it especially helpful when I cannot easily brush my teeth after eating and does seem to be useful addition to good dental hygiene. I think gum is very much a “your mileage may vary” habit depending on how many peices you chew, your oral microbiome, for how long, brand, ingredients, etc. Anyway, I plan on keeping my teeth for a very long time so can I keep efficiently chewing my WFPB diet.

  10. I half keep expecting someone to post a link to the song “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight”. ‘-)

    1. Damn, why didn’t I think of that ditty, Lonie! :-) True, the thing about chewing gum — at least with me — I remember the flavor would be gone in, like, 5 minutes or so. Then I’d be “stuck” with that annoying keep-chewing-the- damn thing, anyway. I’d always be eager to junk it somewhere.

      (As I’ve posted before, I sure don’t need to lose weight….if indeed that’s what it’s supposed to do.)

      Here y’go, Lonie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBmW37ZJlsohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBmW37ZJlso

      1. Damn, why didn’t I think of that ditty,
        ————————————————
        I started to post a link myself but then thought I would leave off doing so just to see if I could lure you out to do it.

        I love it when a plan comes together. ‘-)

    1. Barb,

      The only “positive effects” from exercise I’ve felt immediately after starting a workout — well, after the workout itself — is feeling sleepy and wanting to immediately go to bed for a nap. I used to fall asleep on the floor while stretching after a moderate jog — in the morning! (I’ve been late to work for this reason; I had to modify my exercise schedule.)

      I’ve had this reaction all my life; as a teenager, I read that exercise wakes a person up, so I used to try it while say, babysitting. Nope; always fell asleep. While studying, especially before tests? Same result.

      And I’ve never experienced any sort of high during or after exercising. But I exercise moderately, so perhaps I never worked hard enough. Though I usually feel very relaxed after exercise. Not invigorated, though.

      1. Dr J , I have a similar reaction to exercise as you do most of the time. I don’t experience the runner’s high, but I exercise a lot, and miss it terribly if I can’t do it for some reason.

        What I found interesting is that this neuroscientist talks about the changes in the brain from doing exercise on a cellular level and how this translates in practical terms with improved memory etc.

      2. Dr. J.

        I agree with that. Even when I was young, I never ever felt a high from it.

        Walking is the exercise which I do feel something though and that is peacefulness when I walk outdoors. Meditative and comforting.

        When I use a treadmill, the answer is that I tend to feel bored.

        The exception was when I used to go to Planet Fitness and I used to run into an elderly woman who was training to hike mountains in Spain by herself. She would always be wearing a backpack and have her incline way up.

        I used to hike when I was young and was drawn to things like that, but not anymore. I prefer walking to hiking now.

  11. People always look for the easiest way to do everything, even bordering on the absurd. If moving a small muscle group without breaking a sweat was an effective weight loss exercise strategy, then I doubt there would have been such a thing as obesity in the first place.

    1. Yes, true. Your post got me thinking though

      There is extra effort involved in eating whole food (WF) versus processed food (PF). So it is could possibly be said that eating whole foods is a form of effective exerxcise strategy that doesn’t involve breaking a sweat?

      ‘Ingestion of the particular PF meal tested in this study decreases postprandial energy expenditure by nearly 50% compared with the isoenergetic WF meal. This reduction in daily energy expenditure has potential implications for diets comprised heavily of PFs and their associations with obesity.’
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897733/

      Perhaps another reason why WFPB diets tend to lose weight?

      1. Tom,

        That is brilliant.

        Yes, people are attracted to WFPB because the diet itself works.

        When I was younger, I suspect someone like Dr. McDougall or someone put out the concept that people could lose weight without exercising and they could eat as much as they wanted and the press and talk show hosts made such fun of the concept that I never listened to what it was. I thought it was a fad diet, but here I am 30 or 40 years later and I found a diet where you can pretty much not count calories and not exercise and people lose 250 pounds that way. Yes, I am not losing weight all that fast, but I didn’t gain weight and I did lose some.

        I probably have to exercise, but if I had listened and believed the message back then, it might not be so hard for me right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This