Chewing gum may raise math grades in teens

Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:05pm EDT
 
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - In a study likely to make school janitors cringe, U.S. researchers said Wednesday that chewing gum may boost academic performance in teenagers.

Many U.S. schools ban chewing gum because children often dispose of the sticky chaw under chairs or tables.

But a team led by Craig Johnston at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that students who chewed gum during math class had higher scores on a standardized math test after 14 weeks and better grades at the end of the term than students in the class who did not chew gum. The study was funded by chewing gum maker Wrigley.

"For the first time we've been able to show in a real-life kind of situation that students did perform better when they were allowed to chew," said Gil Leveille, executive director of the Wrigley Science Institute, a research arm of Wm Wrigley Jr Co, which is now a part of Mars Inc.

Leveille said Wrigley has gotten feedback from many of its gum customers who say chewing gum helps them stay focused.

So, four years ago the company started the science institute to see if some of these claims have merit.

The researchers at Baylor studied four math classes or 108 students aged 13 to 16 years old from a Houston, Texas, charter school that serves mostly low-income Hispanic students.

About half got free Wrigley's sugar-free gum to chew during class, homework and tests. They chewed at least one stick of gum 86 percent of the time they were in math class and 36 percent of the time they were doing homework.   Continued...

 
<p>An Afghan boy blows a bubble gum while watching a game of "Buzkashi" at a stadium in Kabul February 28, 2003. REUTERS/Erik de Castro</p>