A Diet Idea to Chew Over

webGumRemember the olden days when if you were caught chewing gum in class, you had to put it on the end of your nose or march yourself down to the principal’s office? Like Rodney Dangerfield, gum chewers got no respect.

That’s about to change. Kathleen Melanson, associate professor of nutrition and food sciences, compared gum chewing and non-gum chewing in 35 healthy adult volunteers who came to her lab on two separate visits. One day they chewed and one day they didn’t. During both visits, their resting metabolism rates and blood glucose levels were measured during regular intervals.

When the volunteers chewed gum for an hour in the morning (three 20-minute sessions), they ate 67 fewer calories at lunch than they did on their chew-less days, and they did not compensate by eating more later in the day. Melanson also found that when her subjects chewed gum before and after eating, they expended about five percent more energy than when they didn’t chew.

According to the researcher, 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 help explain why the act of chewing helps to reduce hunger.