Self Portrait

Can We Walk and Chew Gum and Lose Weight All at Once?

Isn’t dealing with excess weight already hard enough? Now, researchers from Japan want us to walk and chew gum and lose weight all at once. In a randomized controlled trial, Susumu Kanno and colleagues recently showed that walking and chewing gum causes people to burn more fat than just walking without the gum.

The authors say their findings may help with preventing age-related weight gain that leads to obesity.

Not So Fast

It’s a big leap from this study to a claim that chewing gum will help you lose weight or prevent weight gain. For one thing, the researchers only studied effects on exercise behavior, energy expenditure, and fat oxidation. To suggest an effect on weight is pure speculation.

In fact, we can point to a randomized controlled study of chewing gum for weight loss. It showed no effect. Of course, you can quibble with the details of the study. Researchers didn’t have people walk and chew gum at the same time. So, maybe that’s the secret. But please, don’t bet your life on it.

Combining Two Hard Tasks?

You might ask, how hard can it be to walk and chew gum at the same time? Perhaps this idiom, which dates to 1956,  is sufficient proof that almost any fool can do it. But then again, some people think losing weight is a simple matter of eating less and moving more. That’s certainly not true, as many of us know from experience and science. It’s just an annoying cliché.

So we’ll hold off on endorsing this concept. The gap between an interesting idea and real health outcomes in obesity is huge. We don’t need another insulting cliché.

Click here for the study and here for another perspective.

Self Portrait, photograph © Veronica Aguilar / flickr

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May 24, 2019