A new study reveals that chewing gum, especially the mint variety, won’t curb your appetite or help you lose weight. In fact, chewing minty gum may lead you to reach for chips and candy instead of fruits and vegetables.
Published in the April issue of the journal Eating Behaviors, the study finds that mint gum can alter the taste of fruits and vegetables, making it more tempting to reach for something less healthy. Researchers at the University at Buffalo in the US asked 44 people to play a gambling-style game with food as the prize, with some subjects playing for orange slices and grapes, while others played for potato chips and M&Ms. Prior to the game, half of the participants chewed either a fruit-flavoured gum or a mint gum.
The mint-gum chewers were significantly less motivated to play for the fruit, while the fruit-gum chewers worked a little harder for the healthy treats. In a second test involving subjects keeping a food journal, participants who chewed minty gum before every meal ate fewer meals, but they consumed higher calories. The culprit could be the menthol in mint, which interacts with nutrients in fruits and veggies to create a bitter flavour, which subsequently turns people away from healthy foods.