In The News: Chew Gum for Better Performance in the Classroom

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A new study performed by U.S. researchers may give your teens yet another excuse to break the rules at school. The study found that chewing gum in the classroom–a “crime” that often results in after-school detention–may improve grades later on.

The team of researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that students who chewed gum during math class scored three percent higher on a standardized math test and performed better overall after 14 weeks than their peers who did not. The gum chewers also received better final grades in the class. Students who did not chew gum did not see any significant changes in performance. 

The researchers also studied college students working on challenging tasks on a computer. Students who chewed gum produced a significantly lower amount of the stress hormone cortisol. Frequent cortisol secretion can result in chronic stress, higher blood pressure, and increased abdominal fat, among other health problems.

Rather than punishing kids for chewing gum in the classroom,
teachers may want to start handing it out daily for smarter students.
Photo by Macarena C./Courtesy

This isn’t the first time in recent years that chewing gum has been praised for its benefits in the classroom. In 2009, another study found that chewing gum could actually improve concentration among kids.

Gum can provide many health benefits for adults as well. Research has found that gum may be an important tool in weight loss and maintenance. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, results showed that sugar-free gum chewers who chewed gum all day can burn up to 11 pounds per year.

According to research done by the Wrigley Science Institute, smacking on sugar-free gum can also help prevent cavities by stimulating saliva, the most important natural defense against tooth decay. Gum also helps remove food particles, reduce plaque buildup, and strengthen tooth enamel–all while giving you minty fresh breath.

There could be some downsides to constantly chomping away, so it’s important to give your mouth a few breaks from that minty goodness during the day. Here’s why: Some cosmetic surgeons believe that because chewing a piece of gum requires the same motion over and over again, little lines and folds can form around the mouth. In addition, chewing gum all day can strain the stomach and intestines and may result in stomach burns and ulcers.

These side effects are not typical, however, so chew on for better brain function, a skinnier waistline and fresh breath. 

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