I spent the last 7 years of my life primarily working on flavoring chewing gum. You wouldn’t think chewing gum could occupy so much time, but it’s an important market. Chewing gum is typically composed of the following ingredients:
- flavors (1-3%)
- sweetener (60-80%)
- softeners (a small amount of glycerine or oil)
- gum base 20-30% (rubber)
As a parent and a flavor scientist who chewed 5-15 pieces of sugar-free gum a day, I have some concern over the ingredients in sugar-free gum. Sorbitol, the majority of the sweetener in sugar-free gum is my largest concern. I suffered many a day from gastrointestinal distress as a result of sorbitol. 10 grams/day for an adult is enough to induce a laxative effect on the body.
Therefore 8-10 small pieces of sugar-free gum are enough to cause discomfort. On days where 15+ pieces of gum were chewed, I found the stomach pain comparable to childbirth labor. Therefore, I’m concerned about how much gum should a 50#child ingest a day. I would only recommend sharing a few pieces with your child.
Of course, of concern to many parents are the artificial high potency sweeteners :aspartame, ace K, sucralose and neotame that are used in conjunction with the sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol (commonly refered to as polyols). The polyols add bulk, cooling effect and some sweetness, but the artificial sweeteners are used to boost the up front sweetness of the gum & extend the flavor. I anticipate that each piece of gum has approximately 0.005-0.015% of artificial high potency sweetener. That level doesn’t seem overly high, when compared to powder drinks that have approximately 0.01-0.03% sweetner added. It would concern me if my child was eating several food, beverage and confection items with artificial high potency sweeteners daily. Moderation is the best approach to diet. I also like the idea of giving my child sugar-free gum as opposed to sugar gum. Cavities and good oral hygiene are a concern of any parent.
As I discuss some of the gum on our market, I’ll most likely involve my children. They like to chew a piece every day and it’s a treat I keep in the car. My older daughter saves wrappers to enjoy the smell of the flavor at a later time.