Gum Chewing Study: Can Minty Gum Make You Fat?

Chewing gum may not help stave off extra calories after all. A new study in fact, has reported that the opposite may be the case - gum may make some less likely to eat the right food.

While chewing a stick gum may seem like a logical decision when trying to avoid the intake of extra calories, a new study has revealed that gum chewing may have more detrimental effects on one's diet than good. The problem is not in the act of chewing but in a key ingredient: menthol.

Menthol is used in many different types of gum to create a minty flavor. But according to a study published in the April issue of the journal Eating Behaviors, the menthol contained in certain kinds of gum could make fruits and veggies less appealing.

"We were interested in seeing 'Does this really help with weight loss?'" study co-author Christine Swoboda, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Ohio State University, told Live Science.

The study revealed that those who enjoyed a piece of mint flavor gum before having a meal typically consumed as much calories in one day as those who did not chew any gum at all. But those who had the minty gum were also less likely to consume fruits and vegetables, which led them to consuming more empty calories instead.

Swoboda suggested that the mint flavor of menthol was likely contributing to fruits and vegetable having a "bitter taste."

People "ate less fruits and vegetables, because in their head, they thought 'I have to chew gum before every meal - do I really want a snack of grapefruit?'" she said, according to Live Science. "Whereas, they were like, 'I'm so hungry I'm going to eat this double cheeseburger and it will taste the same.'"

There could be good news, however, for those whose preference for gum includes flavors like Extra's "Apple Pie" or Trident's Sweet Cherry and Island Lime, both of which do not contain menthol. However, the study also concluded that those who had a piece of gum that did not contain menthol did not significantly change their food consumption.

The conclusion - Apple Pie gum is still unlikely to keep anyone from going for the real thing.