The British Medical Journal (BMJ) probably lent an inadvertent boost to chewing gum sales this month. The journal reported that chewing gum containing the artificial sweetener sorbitol could lead to severe weight loss. To most desperate to diet ears, that sounds like good news. However, this extreme weight loss was the result of intense gum chewing that provoked several negative side effects.
The BMJ report actually only involved two women, not exactly the material you would want to base widespread medical recommendations on. Both women experienced unexplained severe weight loss and diarrhea. Ultimately, researchers pinned the source of the copious bowel movements and weight loss as 20 grams of sorbitol the ladies consumed daily by smacking on about 15 to 20 sticks of gum a day.
Besides bowel problems, the women also experienced bloating and gas. After the ladies cut back on the gum chewing, the diarrhea and sudden weight loss stopped.
That negative gum news contradicts the findings of the Wrigley Science Institute (WSI). The WSI is an organization that researches new benefits of chewing gum in an effort to increases sales of Wrigley gums like Extra and Juicy Fruit.
In 2007, a study involving 60 participants, aged 18 to 54, were asked to consume a sweet and salty afternoon snack after chewing a sweetened gum or not chewing gum. Hunger, appetite and cravings were rated immediately after lunch, and then hourly.
Based on the findings of this study, the WSI delineated the following benefits of gum chewing:
Chewing gum significantly reduced caloric intake by 25 calories and specifically reduced sweet snack intake by 39 calories; salty snacks were decreased by 11 calories.
Hunger and desire to eat were significantly suppressed by chewing gum at one, two and three hour intervals after lunch.
Participants reported that chewing gum improved their mood by reducing anxiety and stress, and increasing contentment and relaxation.
In a similar study among individuals not actively trying to manage their weight, chewing gum reduced snack intake by average of 36 calories.
Data combined from both studies found that chewing gum reduced intake of the sweet snack in particular by an average of 47 calories.
While the Wrigley's research seems promising, another study published in the journal Appetite unveiled no weight loss benefits related to chewing gum. This study involved 47 volunteers and explored the influence of sweetened chewing gum on appetitive ratings, meal patterning and food intake.
Investigators imposed three test conditions on study participants after they ate lunch at a laboratory: no gum chewing, gum chewing two hours after lunch and gum chewing when hungry. The volunteers completed each treatment (eating lunch then reporting what happned), one day a week for three weeks.
Throughout the remainder of the day, participants self-recorded data about their mood, appetite and food intake. The results revealed that appetite ratings, meal patterning and food intake do not differ among the three treatment conditions.
Apparently, chewing gum can provoke weight loss by either provoking more bowel movements or by distracting you from excessive eating. Just pay attention to the sweetener used in your gum, because artificial sugars have their respective potentially negative side-effects like gas, annoying smacking and uncontrollable bowel movements.
Edelman PR, Chicago. (2007, October 22). Chewing Gum May Help Reduce Cravings and Control Appetite. Newswise.
Juergen, B. et al. (2008, January). Severe weight loss caused by chewing gum. British Journal of Medicine, 336, 96-97.
Julis, R.A. & Mattes, R.D. (2007, March). Influence of sweetened chewing gum on appetite, meal patterning and energy intake. Appetite, 48, 2, 167-175.
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