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Chewing Gum Increases Healthy Restaurant Choices

      Objective

      Chewing gum has been shown to reduce snacking (Hetherington and Boyland 2007) because it reduces appetite and suppresses cravings for high-calorie snacks (Hetherington and Regan 2011). However, the question remains whether gum not only reduces consumption of unhealthy snacks but can also guide consumers to opt for healthier options over unhealthy options when choosing food for a meal. This research aimed to examine whether gum can influence the healthiness of one's choices within a meal, such as when ordering at a restaurant, and how immediate this influence might be.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants, and Intervention

      Participants (N = 59) were randomly assigned to either a gum-chewing group or a non gum-chewing group. They were then instructed to pick options out of an on-line restaurant menu devised for the study. Participants were instructed to choose one each of a main dish, side dish, dessert, and drink. For each category, we offered two lower-calorie items, and two higher-calorie items.

      Outcome, Measures and Analysis

      We counted the number of higher and lower calorie options chosen, and compared these between conditions via t-tests.

      Results

      Participants who chewed gum picked a higher number of low calorie items (3.38 vs. 2.51 items) and a lower number of high calorie items (.96 vs. 1.6 items). The effects were significant. The effects were significant at a .02 and .02 level respectively.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Chewing gum while making restaurant choices seems to decrease the percentage of unhealthy choices in a restaurant. This occurs even with a relatively brief period of gum chewing.

      Funding

      Wrigley Science Advisory Council