Don't Chew 15 Sticks Of Sorbitol-Sweetened Gum Per Day

Here’s some news you can use, especially if you work in an office and really can’t run to the bathroom every fifteen minutes without someone noticing. “Many sugar-free chewing gums contain a sweetener called sorbitol. Sorbitol is a laxative which is poorly absorbed by the small intestine.” Normally, this doesn’t matter, but if you’re one of those crazy people who takes something wayyy too far, and you tend to chew over a pack a day, you might want to switch to a different gum brand.

The warning comes after doctors came across two patients who had chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain and dangerously excessive weight loss. After lengthy investigations which could not identify why the patients were losing so much weight and had chronic diarrhea and pains, a detailed analysis of eating habits put the problem down to eating too much chewing gum with sorbitol.

One of the patients, a 21-year-old woman, had been eating the equivalent of 18-20g of sorbitol each day. The average stick of gum has about 1.25g sorbitol – so, she was chewing through 15-18 sticks of gum each day. The other patient, a 46-year-old man, was chewing about 20 sticks of sorbitol-containing gum plus approximately 200g of sweets (candy) each day – his total sorbitol daily intake was about 30g, the authors wrote.

This is why we’re here—to help protect consumers from embarrassing bathroom issues (although you won’t believe how hard it was not to repackage this along the “extreme weight loss” angle and cross-post it to Jezebel just for more hits).

“Chewing Gum Sweetener Can Cause Dangerous Weight Loss” [Medical News TODAY]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. TomK says:

    this was on house.

  2. yashichi8bit says:

    I only chew Wrigley’s gum variants. They are the only kind I can find that still use real sugar and not some artificial sweetener.

  3. DrGirlfriend says:

    Lose lots of weight, ey?

    I’ll just wear one of those new Depends panties that they keep showing someone modeling on TV and voila, extreme weight loss without the gastrointestinal embarassment.

  4. mopar_man says:

    Sounds like a fine diet plan to me. And it cleans out the pipes. Win/win!

  5. pestie says:

    This is true of just about any of the sugar alcohols: sorbitol, malitol, sucralose (aka Splenda), xylitol – maybe others as well. The problem is that the bacteria in your gut will eat these, thinking that they’re sugar, and produce copious amounts of gas and other unpleasantness in the process. I’m diabetic and tend to like eat things with sugar substitutes as a result, and I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t take much of any of these to provoke a rather unpleasant reaction. It’ll go away, of course, and it’s not ultimately harmful (at least in the short term – I’m no doctor, so I make no other claims) but it sure can suck. And yes, it’s sent me running to the john at work.

  6. Sudonum says:

    I imagine it’s especially effective if used in conjunction with Alli.

  7. HawkWolf says:

    I used to be extremely sensitive to sorbitol, but that went away. I’m very glad. sucralose is a sugar alcohol?

  8. teh says:

    @DrGirlfriend: For some reason I’m reminded of the “may cause [unholy] diarrhea” side effect from that new over the counter weight loss drug, alli.

  9. swalve says:

    @pestie: Sucralose isn’t a sugar alcohol, it’s chlorinated sugar.


    This stuff is fine if eaten in moderate amounts. That said, if you want to poop like a goose, eat half a bag of sugar-free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Holy crapola!

  10. Crazysamz says:

    No wonder why I’ve been losing weight!!! I chew about a pack of gum (5 Gum) about every2-3 days!! Is that too much?? I just read on the packaging the ingredients, and the very first one was sorbitol. Does this by any chance also have side effects like dizziness?? Because I seem to be getting dizzy all of the time too…. I’m too addicted to gum, I need something else to replace it, any suggestions?? Something healthy though…

  11. Parting says:

    Won’t you get heartburns if you chew too much gum?

  12. Cary says:

    I believe the dizziness you’re experiencing from excessive sorbitol consumption may be from a lack of ozygen… might try opening a window or turning on the exhaust fan there sparky

  13. Gaambit says:

    Oh damn…I am a fiend for the Orbit gum (Mojito!) and usually have two sticks at a time. Thing is, I’ve never noticed any increase in my…uhh…use of the facilities.

  14. nardo218 says:

    This was in House, with Andrew from Buffy. But, weight loss? Hmm, may have to chug those Tridents.

  15. iamme99 says:

    @YASHICHI8BIT – I only chew Wrigley’s gum variants. They are the only kind I can find that still use real sugar and not some artificial sweetener.

    I’m looking at a pack of Orbit gum (made by Wrigley’s) on my desk. Sorbitol is the number one ingredient by weight! Package contains 14 pieces. Each piece weights 1.9g. If sorbitol is the #1 ingredient (ahead of the gum base itself), that seems like a whole lot, relatively speaking. Figure 1g of sorbitol per stick. That’s 14g for the pack, which is just about 1/2oz of sugary something.

    Shouldn’t there be a warning of potential side effects on the pack?

  16. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @Crazysamz: Honestly, real sugar would be healthier — same as how butter is healthier than trans fats. Yeah, you have to watch your intake either way, but the natural stuff won’t screw you up nearly as fast as the artificial will.

  17. MakGeek says:

    @yashichi8bit: Check that ingredient list again buddy. Looks like Big Red, DoubleMint, and JuicyFruit all have an artificial sweetener. Check out GleeGum for an all natural alternative. []

  18. WV.Hillbilly says:

    Sorbitol=sore butthole.

  19. Benny Gesserit says:

    @WV.Hillbilly: Good one!

  20. il1lupo1970 says:

    @crazysamz: start smoking.

  21. cerealfan says:

    You know those “Phenylketoneuretics: Contains Phenylalenine” warnings on gum and sodas? In the UK, their labels are a little bit different: “Contains Phenylalenine, may cause laxitive-like effects” (or something like that). How’s that for an eye popping warning label?

  22. LionelEHutz says:

    So can sorbitol gum such as Orbit now be unofficially known as shit sticks?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Strangely, orbit gum HAS this warning on it on the Spanish-language packaging used in South America (Uruguay/Argentina). It says something to the effect of “Warning: excessive use may have a laxative effect.”

    A visit to this part of the world is usually a delightful escape from stupid warnings like “Warning, coffee is hot.” When I saw the warning on the package I thought… must be a REAL risk for it to be on the packaging HERE!!!

  24. crumb says:

    Why can’t people go back to smoking cigarettes instead of chewing gum like the old days.

  25. KJones says:

    Thanks for the info! I’ll start buying sorbitol-laden gum and give it to the idiots I work with who blow bubbles and snap gum all day.


  26. lincolnparadox says:

    @pestie: Sucralose is a sucrose that has been modified with 3 chlorine atoms (yum). Unlike most sugar alcohols, sucralose can be broken down in your body and used for energy. The allure of sucralose is that it’s 500-times sweeter than table sugar and produces less energy when broken down. Translation, one serving of sugar = 400 calories; one serving of sucralose = about 4 calories. Much less sucralose is required for the same sweetening power, so non-calories fillers (like maltodextrin fiber) are added for bulk.

    Even though we can’t break down sugar alcohols, the bacteria in our gut can. This is where the gas comes from. The diarrhea comes from the alcohol drawing water back into the large intestine. The only sugar alcohol that doesn’t cause many problems is erythritol, because it never makes it to the large intestine (unless you eat A LOT of it).

    Best advice I can give is to not consumer more than 10g of sugar alcohols per day. You have to be careful, though. Many fruits and vegetables contain sugar alcohols, naturally.

    One last thing, if you are of Jewish descent you might want to avoid xylitol. There is some new evidence that it may lead to tumor production, particularly in patients with Jewish heritage.

  27. tedjordan says:

    I’ve been experiencing dizziness too after chewing 20 sticks of sorbitol gum a day. Not sure if it’s some side effect of it’s laxative action

  28. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @cerealfan: Why doesn’t the UK have labels warning people with PKU? Do they figure anyone with that problem is going to be looking for it anyway?

  29. kygirl says:

    This would be a great thing to use before a colonscopy. Better than drinking all that nasty and I do mean nasty stuff that you have to take to get “cleaned Out” before hand! I saw the House episode also and thought it was quite funny, being a diabetic I’ve had many “run” ins with all these artificial sugars. Thank goodness my husband is a wonderful guy who deals with me when its “there she blows” time.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Yesterday I had terrible dry mouth and was too busy to stop and drink water regularly, so I bought some lozenges — Sugar Free Ricola Green Tea With Echinacea. I forgot to check the ingredient list, but now I know it contains both aspartame and sorbitol. I actually ate all 19 drops in one day, and today my stomach was not a happy camper. Next time I’ll just buy the kind with sugar.