Gum: To Chew or to Blow, That is the Question

To chew or not to chew. That is the question. Whether tis nobler to chew or blow is really the question, of course. What’s the difference between chewing gum and bubble gum? Duh! Ever tried to blow a bubble with a stick of Wrigley’s? Turns out beside not being bubble-worthy, there are plenty of other things separating the two and making chewing gum a possible preference.

The Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas conducted research in 2009 on the effects of chewing gum on academic achievement. The studies concluded that students who chewed gum performed better on standardized mathematics tests than students who did not chew gum. The study also revealed that the final grades of those students who participated were higher if they regularly chewed gum than those who did not. The math tests were taken after the students had been chewing gum in class for fourteen weeks. Though the collective increase in math scores on standardized tests was just 3%, this figure is considered to be statistically significant. 

The Univ. of Northumbria in Newcastle, UK conducted a study that indicates the act of chewing gum may have a positive impact on improving memory. The study involved 75 participants split equally between a group that chewed gum, a group mimicked chewing and a group that did no chewing at all. Scores on memory tests taken by those who actually chewed gum were 24% higher than the two control groups. The tests were based on immediate and delayed recall of words. A 2000 study conducted in Japan indicated that the physical action of chewing gum increases activity in the part of the brain that is most important to memory: the hippocampus.  

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that indicates chewing a certain type of gum can help people lose weight. Sugar free gum is the secret to this benefit of chewing. The act of chewing was found to elevate the metabolic rate which in turn results in burning more calories per hour. The metabolic rate can potentially be improved by as much as 20% and theoretically a person chewing gum all day long could lose 11 pounds a year without making any other change in their diet or exercise habits. This benefit of chewing gum does come with possible disadvantages. Excessive chewing of even sugar free gum could result in ulcers or other stomach disorders brought on by exhaustion of the intestines.