Sugar Free but Not Danger Free

Gum with sorbitol can cause severe weight loss, stomach pain
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2008 6:30 AM CST
   (Index Open)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Those who chew too much sugar-free gum may face stomach pain, diarrhea and rapid weight loss, researchers warn. The culprit is sorbitol, an artificial sweetener widely used in sugar-free foods. The chemical's graver side effects kicks in for those who chew about 20 sticks of gum a day, the BBC reports.

Gum manufacturers say sorbitol is safe in normal doses and gum packets carry warnings. But health researchers counter that heavy chewers are unaware of sorbitol's laxative effects, and often fail to connect gum habits to stomach problems. Such was the case of one woman who lost 24 pounds and suffered 8 months of stomach pains before doctors realized her gum chewing was to blame.