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Chewing Gum May Lead to Weight Gain, Study

Update Date: Mar 29, 2013 01:52 PM EDT

Chewing gum can actually cause you to gain more weight, according to new research.

Scientists found that chewing gum makes people eat more high-calorie sweet foods because them chemical that gives gum its minty flavor makes fruit and vegetables taste bad and chips and cookies taste good.  The unpleasant taste of healthy foods after chewing a stick of gum is similar to the taste of orange of apple juice after brushing your teeth, according to Live Science.

Researchers Christine Swoboda, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Ohio State University and Jennifer Temple of the University of Buffalo studied 44 people who played slot machine games for food. Some participants played for pieces of fruit while others played for chips and candy.  Before the experiment, half of the volunteers were given either fruit of mint gum.

Researcher found that participants who chewed mint flavored gum were significantly less likely to play for as long to win fruit as they were to win the junk food. The study found that those who chewed fruity gum were also less interested in fruit, but the results were not as significant.

While people who chew gum tend to eat fewer meals, researchers say that doesn't necessary mean they eat fewer calories.

In a second experiment, researchers had participants keep a food dairy.  They were asked to chew mint gum before all meals and to jot down everything they ate throughout the say.  The findings show that while people did indeed eat fewer meals, they did not consume fewer calories as a result.

Researchers explained that this might be because the menthol in mint interacts with nutrients in fruits and vegetables to create a bitter flavor, which makes healthy foods seem unappealing and sweeter, unhealthy foods more appealing.

The findings are published in the April edition of Eating Behaviors.

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