February 12, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 74  

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Gum makes you smart: Wrigley’s

By Dave Ward
Gazette Writer

Chewing gum may help to improve your marks, according to new research from New York University’s College of Dentistry.

The research, funded by Wrigley’s, tested the impact of gum chewing on education, said lead researcher Kenneth Allen, a professor at the College. Allen explained that 56 volunteers were divided into gum-chewers and non-chewers and had them sit through three days of instruction before writing an identical test.

Allen said the gum-chewers scored higher on the tests, with an average of B-minus, while the non-chewers only had an average of C-plus.

General explanations included the fact that chewing gum raised heart rates, which increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, he said. However, Allen said he did not have any thoughts of his own as to why gum-chewers scored higher, adding the study was an important beginning but more scientific research was needed to explain why chewers scored higher.

Allen said previous studies were “not rigorous science in my opinion.” He said the old studies had just been quick surveys that did not meet the high level of control and standards involved in his study.

“The difference in the marks was not very great,” said Elizabeth Bright-See, professor of human ecology at Brescia University College. She added it was difficult to draw a significant conclusion based on such a small sample group.

“From a nutrition standpoint, there is no reason [chewing gum] would help,” Bright-See said, but added it might be a stress reliever for some people.

Allen said dentists encourage chewing gum already. “If it’s sugarless gum, I see no problem with it,” he said.

“I don’t see how it would help. I usually do it anyway,” said first-year social science student Erin Merrifield.

When asked if he would chew gum to help his marks if more studies supported this one, non-gum-chewer second-year social science student Julian Marra said, “if it helps me get better marks, then sure.”

Allen stated he plans on presenting his study to the American Association for Dental Research. “I think they will react positively. They are a very open-minded group.”



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