National / Science & Health

Chewing gum as you walk may help you stay slimmer: Japanese study


Still looking for the secret to effortless weight loss? It may be as simple as chewing gum while walking, Japanese researchers suggested Saturday.

In experiments, they said, the heart rates of 46 people from 21 to 69 rose when they were given gum to chew while walking at a natural pace.

And while masticating caused a measurable physical difference in both genders and across all age groups, it was most pronounced in men over 40, the team reported at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.

“Combining exercise and gum chewing may be an effective way to manage weight,” the researchers said — particularly in countries such as Japan where walking is the “most widely performed movement.”

Previous research had found that gum chewing boosts heart rate and energy expenditure in people at rest. But this study was the first dedicated to its effects on people while walking, its authors said.

Volunteers completed two walking trials, each 15 minutes long. In one they chewed two pellets of gum containing 3 kilocalories. In the other, for comparison, they walked after ingesting a powder containing the same ingredients.

The team then measured their resting and walking heart rates in both legs, as well as the distance covered at a natural pace, walking speed, and number of steps taken.

In all participants, the mean heart rate was “significantly higher” in the gum trial, they said.

In men over 40, it also boosted the distance walked, number of steps taken and energy expended.

Though the study was not designed to explain the link, the team speculated it may have something to do with “cardio-locomotor synchronization,” a natural phenomenon whereby the heart beats in rhythm with a repetitive movement.

Obesity has become a global scourge. It increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers.

“Effective preventive methods and treatments for obesity are needed,” the researchers said.

The study was published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science.