“I can’t even chew gum and walk at the same time,” says every person who failed to multitask. The question is, are there any benefits if we do? Science says a BIG YES!
Introduction to the study
Nowadays, Obesity remains a global health risk as the number of obese and overweight people is still increasing.
Even though Obesity can be prevented and eventually can be reversed, no country has yet reversed the growth of this epidemic. Major measures should be taken as Obesity is beyond scale numbers and physical appearance. Obesity is a major risk factor for a number of diseases such as diabetes, metabolic disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancers . Yuka Hamada et. al conducted an interesting study proving that solutions for weight loss can be easy, fun, and effective at the same time.
Interesting scientific facts about gum chewing
Gum chewing stimulates sympathetic nervous activity and increases heart rate and energy expenditure [2-4]. Plus, a 1hour total of gum chewing (3 sessions of 20 minutes each) before and after consuming a breakfast shake increases energy expenditure . In addition, gum-chewing for 15 minutes after consuming a 621 – kcal meal promoted thermogenesis . Furthermore, gum chewing was proven to be effective towards appetite suppression and energy intake [7, 8].
It is generally accepted that physical activity confers both physiological and psychological health benefits . Based on that, researchers in this study tried to elucidate the effect of gum chewing while walking on physiological and physical functions by examining the “walking distance” and “energy metabolism” in both male and female individuals od various age groups.
A randomized, single-blind, controlled, cross-over study was conducted on fifty participants, 25 males and 25 female individuals aged between 22 and 69 years. The study design is summarized in Figures 1 & 2. Each participant completed two trials, the gum trials, and the tablet trial. In the gum trial, participants walked at a natural pace for 15 minutes while chewing two tablets (1.5g, 3 kcal per pellet) following a 50 minutes rest period. In the tablet trial, participants rested for 50 minutes before walking then walked at a natural pace for 15 minutes after ingesting two pellets of tablet containing the same ingredients except for the gum base. During this trial, the walking distance, step count, walking speed, stride, heart rate, energy expenditure, and respiratory exchange ratio were measured for further analysis.
Comparing both male and female groups, the walking distance, step count, walking speed, heart rate, and energy expenditure during walking were significantly higher in the gum trial compared to the tablet trial. All parameters are summarized.
This study proves that walking while chewing a gum increases the walking distance and energy expenditure in male and female individuals. Keep in mind that this study has its limitations. The lack of quantitative or qualitative measurements of chewing and the intensity of chewing is missing.
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Lara Bou Malhab, Ph.D.,
HERC’s Research Department