Does Chewing Gum Actually Suppress Your Appetite?

If suppressing appetite was as easy as popping a piece of chewing gum, there wouldn't be a multibillion-dollar diet industry selling an ever expanding range of products. As with everything related to food, appetite, and dietary habits, context is key. A quick look at the research shows that data both confirms and refutes that chewing gum reduces appetite (via Healthline). Since food and eating patterns can be incredibly personal, individual variability likely explains why some people can chew a piece of gum and dismiss the slice of cake, whereas others want to chew gum and eat their cake, too.

Looking at both sides of the discussion, sources such as a 2011 study in Appetite journal, demonstrated hunger reduction among participants who chewed gum for 45 minutes. Similarly, a 2016 study in Physiology & Behavior reported that afternoon snacking was reduced if people chewed gum after their meal. In both cases, around 50 people were tested, and the decreases measured were relatively low. There's also the conflicting fact that some of the research shining such a positive light on gum was funded by Wrigley (yes, that Wrigley!) Science Institute (via ScienceDaily).

What are some potential downsides?

To test the appetite suppressant and weight loss theory, in 2012, Obesity magazine looked at 200 overweight individuals for a period of eight weeks and found no effect from regular gum chewing. Worse, a 2013 research by Eating Behaviors suggested that frequent gum chewing contributed to less nutritious choices at meal times. They found that less fruit was consumed if gum had been chewed previously, since the combination with mint isn't especially pleasant (think of orange juice and toothpaste).

Although sugar-free gum is the tooth friendly option, registered dietitian Lisa DeFazio tells Women's Health that it might actually lead to cravings. Artificial sweeteners signal to your body that it will receive sugar. When your stomach doesn't actually sense sugar, it can result in cravings. Even worse, Health Shots indicates it can lead to digestive issues since the stomach secretes acids to digest the sugar, potentially resulting in ulcers.

What actually helps?

There are plenty of reasons why people chew gum, and even more to explain mindless snacking. Simply prescribing gum as an antidote to compulsive snacking isn't going to help if the reasons for overeating aren't addressed. Even when some calorie reduction was noticed in gum chewers, it was minimal at around 50 calories a day (via Healthline). Choosing to take the stairs, opting for an open-faced sandwich, or adding less sugar to your coffee could similarly help you shed calories from your daily tally.

Of course, if you always feel the need to have a donut in the afternoon for a "little something sweet," then you might benefit by replacing some fried pastries with a stick of chewing gum. There are ways to create habits around gum to help reduce mindless snacking, such as having a piece to signal a meal time is over registered dietitian Susan Bowerman toldĀ Women's Health.