Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Chewing Gum

by Siena Hocking and Rosie Bell

Globally, gum was valued at $26bn and around a billion packets of gum are bought in Britain every year. Chewing gum is described as a constant problem around the UK, where the government spends £150 million each year on cleaning it off the streets.

However, the average spent on chewing gum in the UK is £281 million. There have been many arguments as to whether a tax should be introduced on chewing gum. In 2005, there was £5 million spent on researching the development of biodegradable gum and anti-litter messages on packs, which were ultimately unsuccessful.

Negative effects of chewing gum
Chewing gum can increase your junk-food intake, as people chew gum to avoid food cravings and avoid unhealthy foods; however, those who chew gum are less likely to eat fruit and vegetables due to the minty flavour making them taste bitter. It is shown that those who don’t chew gum have less nutritious meals.

Chewing gum could make you fart and burp more due to swallowing excess air causing gastrointestinal problems
Unlike the widely-believed theory that chewing gum is bad when you swallow it, it doesn’t stay in your stomach for 7 years, as some think, as saliva keeps it moving through your digestive system as with regular foods. For blockage a large amount of gum must be swallowed. However, when gum is chewed, the enzymes and acids that are activated are released without food intended to digest causing overproduction of stomach acids which could cause problems with digestive systems.

The clean-up for gum in the UK is massive and expensive as jet sprays and specialised chemicals have to be used, costing a town centre around £20k; in some districts, there can now be an on-the-spot fixed penalty notice of £75 for dropping gum on the street.
A tax on chewing gum of 1p would be to generate an income from the large purchases of gum to help pay for the clean-up, as the cleaning up of every 5p piece of gum costs 10p

So why do people chew gum?
People chew gum as it has been proven that there are cognitive benefits. It turns out there’s an excellent rationale for this long-standing cultural habit: gum is an effective booster of mental performance, conferring all sorts of benefits without any side effects. The latest investigation of gum chewing comes from a team of psychologists at St. Lawrence University. The experiment went like this: 159 students were given a battery of demanding cognitive tasks, such as repeating random numbers backward and solving difficult logic puzzles. Half of the subjects chewed gum (sugar-free and sugar-added) while the other half were given nothing. Here’s where things get peculiar: those randomly assigned to the gum-chewing condition significantly outperformed those in the control condition on five out of six tests. The sugar content of the gum had no effect on test performance.

In addition, chewing gum is also beneficial psychologically. Coventry University found that people chewing mint gum showed a dramatic decrease in feelings of sleepiness. The subjects also looked less exhausted when assessed with the Pupillographic Sleepiness Test (PST), which uses the oscillations of the pupils as a metric of tiredness. When we chew gum, we gain alertness and attention.
So therefore, given the uncanny power of gum, it seems a little silly that we don’t allow it in the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. Have a look under any table in any classroom. That's why it's not allowed!


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