AICR Health Talk
Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: Can chewing gum help you lose weight?
A: It may help some people lose weight, but don’t count on it as an important strategy. There are several theories why chewing gum may support weight loss, but research doesn’t show strong results.
One often-quoted study found that chewing gum may burn about 11 calories an hour. This could be compared to the small extra daily calorie burn found in people who tap their toes or otherwise “fidget” all day, and it is unlikely to produce weight loss. Others propose that the act of chewing may lead to changes in digestive hormones that decrease hunger, thus making it easier to cut calories for weight loss. This makes sense in theory, but short-term controlled trials haven’t shown the expected hormonal change.
Chewing gum may aid weight loss by replacing overeating for some. Participants in one controlled study showed a ten percent drop in mid-afternoon snacking when they chewed gum 15 minutes each hour after lunch. But, in a controlled trial that followed overweight people for eight weeks, those who chewed gum 90 minutes a day did not lose weight any more successfully than those who didn’t chew gum.
Consider other strategies to avoid extra eating. Brushing your teeth immediately after a meal helps some people. Try the tradition followed in India of ending meals by chewing a few fennel seeds, or just enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee. If you find that chewing gum helps, that’s great, but think of it as just one small part of changing eating habits to support weight loss.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).