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Appetite. 2012 Apr;58(2):554-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.11.013. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

The contrasting physiological and subjective effects of chewing gum on social stress.

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Department of Psychology, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK.


Uncertainty exists with respect to the extent to which chewing gum may attenuate stress-induced rises in cortisol secretion (Johnson, Jenks, Miles, Albert, & Cox, 2011; Scholey et al., 2009; Smith, 2010). The present study used the Trier Social Stress Task (TSST: Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer, 1993), a task known to elevate cortisol secretion (Kudielka, Schommer, Hellhammer, & Kirschbaum, 2004), in order to examine the moderating physiological and subjective effects of chewing gum on social stress. Forty participants completed the TSST either with or without chewing gum. As expected, completion of the TSST elevated both cortisol and subjective stress levels, whilst impairing mood. Although gum moderated the perception of stress, cortisol concentrations were higher following the chewing of gum. The findings are consistent with Smith (2010) who argued that elevations in cortisol following the chewing of gum reflect heightened arousal. The findings suggest that chewing gum only benefits subjective measures of stress. The mechanism remains unclear; however, this may reflect increased cerebral blood flow, cognitive distraction, and/or effects secondary to task facilitation.

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