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Math + Chewing Gum = Better Grades?

Chewing Gum Might Make Teachers Frown but It Improves Academic Performance, Study Says


He says more research is needed to determine whether chewing would help people in other subjects, such as English and history, “but this is an exciting first step.”

Daniel Moran, PhD, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, says the results are plausible but that he needs more convincing, especially since the study was funded by a chewing gum company.

“It makes sense that if it’s acting as a stress reliever, it is making you smarter,” he tells WebMD after reading Johnston’s abstract. “I’d like to know more about the brain mechanism that’s affecting this.”

Michael Posner, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, says such studies are “difficult to evaluate” because “it is not possible to tell if chewing gum has an influence or whether those who chew gum are different in other ways from those who did not.”

He tells WebMD that there’s no evidence in the study that higher scores in math or other subjects wouldn’t result from “any form of eating or other movements."

“It could even be that the attitude created by being allowed to do something that might be forbidden in class might be important to the effect,” he tells WebMD. “The evidence of self-reported stress reduction and alertness seems to support the advantage of gum chewing over doing nothing, but does not indicate whether gum chewing has a special advantage over other forms of activity.”

Still, Johnston says educators who examined the study’s results were “impressed.”

The Wrigley firm says in a statement that the study is meaningful and should be of interest to parents “when related to small steps that can lead to better academic performance.”

It says the study builds on previous research but says it is chewing gum and not a particular brand that leads to better scores and reduced stress.

The study was supported by the Wrigley Science Institute, which says its research is focused on exploring the impact of chewing gum on focus, alertness, concentration, situational stress, weight management and oral health.

The Baylor researchers say their study in a “high stakes testing environment underscores the need for novel approaches to facilitate improved academic performance as standardized test scores have become a mandatory requirement for assessing academic achievement.”

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