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Back to Kids News February 24, 2006

Is Chewing Gum Healthy? Wrigley's Opens Science Institute to Find Out.

Chewing gum tastes great and is a great way to freshen breath and improve oral health. In addition, there is promising research to suggest that chewing gum may offer some exciting additional health, wellness and lifestyle benefits. Wrigley, the world's leader in chewing gum, announced today the establishment of the Wrigley Science Institute to study whether chewing gum may help consumers as a tool in weight management, stress relief and increasing alertness and concentration.

"The emerging science behind these benefits supports what we've heard anecdotally from consumers for years, and further study could substantially change the way people use gum as part of their everyday lives," said Surinder Kumar, Wrigley's Chief Innovation Officer.

The new Wrigley Science Institute (WSI), the first organization of its kind focused on advancing the research and understanding of the benefits of chewing gum, will be headed by WSI Executive Director Gilbert A. Leveille, PhD. One of the world's most respected nutrition and food science professionals, Leveille will lead an advisory panel of top scientists from around the globe, including researchers from the U.S., the U.K., and China.

In 2006 alone, the Wrigley Science Institute expects to support at least 10 groundbreaking chewing gum research studies. This new research includes three to four studies in the U.S. and U.K. to investigate the potential role of chewing gum in appetite control and weight management, three studies in the U.K. and Asia to study the role chewing gum may have in increasing focus and concentration, and three studies in the U.S. and U.K. to assess how chewing gum may help reduce stress.

"Chewing gum is a simple act many of us do every day, yet we rarely think about its potential benefits. Not long ago, the same could have been said about drinking water, but today we know how important and beneficial it is to overall well-being. Chewing gum may be similar and it could help people achieve multiple health and wellness benefits," said Leveille.

Gum's Expanding Appeal

Chewing gum has gained wide acceptance across all demographics because of its great taste, effectiveness as a breath freshener and its oral health benefits including cavity prevention and tooth whitening. Chewing gum has grown in popularity. According to NPD Group Snack Track, in 2005, chewing gum was the number one snack choice among U.S. adults aged 18-54 and new studies may provide even more motivation to chew gum.

Chewing Gum as a Weight Management Tool

At just five to 10 calories a serving, chewing a piece of gum instead of eating a high-calorie snack can help reduce calorie intake. Chewing gum may also serve as a diversion between meals and help prevent the "mindless munching" that can lead to weight gain. A survey taken by Wrigley during its participation in the 2005 American Dietetic Association's Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, revealed that 87 percent of surveyed dietitians chew gum themselves and more than half recommend chewing gum to their clients to help in weight management efforts.

"Preliminary evidence suggests that chewing gum before a snack may reduce subsequent calorie intake," said Tom Wadden, PhD, the director of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's Weight and Eating Disorders program and a member of the WSI Advisory Panel. "Future research supported by the Wrigley Science Institute will shed more light on the validity of gum's potential to help as part of a sound weight management plan."

Need a Concentration Boost?

Studies have shown that the act of chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain by at least 25 percent. In addition, research has shown that chewing gum appears to improve people's ability to retain and retrieve information. Teachers, intrigued by this, have in some cases reversed traditional policies against chewing gum in class and are now actually giving gum to students during tests as a way to increase focus, concentration and alertness.

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