Smokers have a gum that helps them quit smoking, so it’s only fair that overeaters have a gum to help them quit eating. Thankfully, scientists are getting close to making a safe appetite suppressant gum a reality.

Appetite suppressants aren’t new. There are plenty of drugs on the market that claim to reduce hunger. But those drugs stimulate amphetamines and carry huge health risks like high blood pressure and heart failure.

Researchers at Syracuse University have been focusing their research on a human hormone (hpYY), which is naturally released in a person’s intestines when she eats or exercises and travels to the brain where it helps regulate hunger. Studies have shown that injections of the hormone do suppress appetite and, in some cases, people consumed 30 percent fewer calories after an injection.

The ultimate goal is a medication containing hpYY that could be taken in a pill or tablet form. But it could be most useful as a chewing gum. Studies suggest that humans have receptors for the hormone on their tongues and a gum could bring feelings of fullness sooner than a pill. And, double bonus, chewing gum burns calories.

Unfortunately, to be effective, the hormone has to be injected into the bloodstream. Until now, if it was ingested in pill form, the digestive acids in the stomach destroyed it before it could do any good. But injections are painful and require a medical professional.

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