Chewing gum is a type of gum traditionally made of chicle, a natural latex product, or synthetic rubber known as polyisobutylene. For economical and quality reasons, many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle. Chicle is nonetheless still the base of choice for some regional markets, such as Japan.
Chewing gum in various forms has existed since at least 5,000 years ago at minimum the Neolithic period. 5,000-year-old chewing gum with tooth imprints, made of birch bark tar, has been found in Kierikki, Yli-Ii, Finland. The bark tar of which the gums were made is believed to have antiseptic properties and other medicinal advantages. The ancient Aztecs used chicle as a base for making a gum-like substance. Women in particular used this gum as a mouth freshener.
Forms of chewing gums were also used in Ancient Greece. The Greeks chewed mastic gum, made from the resin of the mastic tree. Many other cultures have chewed gum-like substances made from plants, grasses, and resins.
A research study presented at the 2007 Annual Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society, found that chewing gum before an afternoon snack helped reduce hunger, diminish cravings and promote fullness among individuals who limit their overall calorie intake. Calorie intake from snacks was significantly reduced by 25 calories. Overall, this study demonstrates the benefits of chewing gum and highlights the potential role of chewing gum in appetite control and weight management. Nutritionists say that even small changes in calories can have an impact in the long term. This research study supports the role of chewing gum as an easy, practical tool for weight management.
Study background: In the 60-person study, participants aged 18 to 54 were asked to consume a sweet and salty afternoon snack after chewing a sweetened gum or not chewing gum. Hunger, appetite and cravings were rated immediately after lunch, and then hourly.
* Chewing gum significantly reduced caloric intake by 25 calories and specifically reduced sweet snack intake by 39 calories; salty snacks were decreased by 11 calories.
* Hunger and desire to eat were significantly suppressed by chewing gum at one, two and three hour intervals after lunch.
* Participants reported that chewing gum improved their mood by reducing anxiety and stress, and increasing contentment and relaxation.
* In a similar study among individuals not actively trying to manage their weight, chewing gum reduced snack intake by average of 36 calories.
* Data combined from both studies found that chewing gum reduced intake of the sweet snack in particular by an average of 47 calories.