I was watching the Biggest Loser on Tuesday at the gym, (Is it masochistic to watch a weight-loss show while working out? Sadistic? Just ooky? Whatever. I digress.) and I noticed a commercial for Extra! Gum, touting it as "the long lasting 5-calorie snack" that will "take you from 'nice gut' to 'nice butt.'" The ridiculousness of the fact that five calories now equals a "snack" notwithstanding, the Los Angeles Times discussed earlier this week whether the conclusion of the ad — that chewing gum helps you lose weight — holds water. The bottom line? "If you're counting calories, a stick of gum is miles better than a Twinkie." Basically, if gum can stop you from binging on high calorie foods, then yes, chewing gum can help you lose weight (you know, when gum isn't causing you to have explosive diarrhea). What's misleading is that the trainers on the Biggest Loser have also been shilling Extra gum as a weight loss aid.
According to the LAT, the Loser brass has been encouraging contestants to chew it because "gum can curb appetite, prevent snacking and provide an edge in the weight-loss game." It might be true to an extent, but the contestants on Loser are also exercising several hours a day and being fed incredibly healthy food in a controlled environment. The fact that they're losing a ton of weight? Yeah, it's not the gum.
Chewing gum is also a weight-loss strategy among some of the women interviewed by Allure for an article called, "Junk-food dieters fake their way to skinny." Kate, a 32-year-old advertising executive, chews an entire 18-piece pack of Extra a day to avoid snacking. Other women interviewed for the piece swear by Diet Coke, Starbucks, Tasti-D, and those apocalyptic 100-calorie snack packs as weight loss helpers. "Many believe ingesting a few artificial ingredients is a small price to pay for being able to eat the things they love while staying as thin as a Pringle," according to Allure. Um, no shit? Basically, these women are counting calories and sometimes rely on processed foods to do so. How is this newsworthy? Eating fewer calories will always make you lose weight, even if those calories are spent entirely on sugar-free Jell-O. When your paramount goal is to be skinny, not healthy, you're going to resort to whatever measures possible to reach your goal. That said, I will give up diet coke when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.