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Diet Myth or Truth: Chewing Gum for Weight Loss

Can chewing sugarless gum really help you cut calories?

Don't Overdo It

Although chewing gum can help you cut calories and avoid fattening snacks, it's important not to go overboard.

Most sugar-free chewing gums contain a low-calorie sweetener called sorbitol. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that is poorly absorbed by the small intestine and acts like a laxative. A study in The British Medical Journal tells of cases of chronic diarrhea, pain, and unexplained weight loss that was traced to excessive consumption of sorbitol-containing gum (15-20 sticks daily).

Chewing gum can also lead to swallowing air, which can cause bloating. Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, recommends alternating gum with a solid piece of hard candy.

Bottom Line

Think of gum chewing as another tool in your weight loss kit – one that can help you manage hunger and cravings, and add up to calorie savings over time. Results will not be dramatic – but then again, it's not difficult to chomp on some gum to satisfy your yearning for sweets.

Still, make sure you don't forgo nutritious snacks like vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grain crackers, and fruit. And don’t forget to keep your sugar alcohol in check by limiting consumption of foods and beverages containing sorbitol.

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Reviewed on January 11, 2010

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