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Something to chew over

First it was classical music, then exercise. Now chewing gum is being championed for its brain-boosting effect on teenagers (according to a study funded by gum manufacturer Wrigley).

The US study was conducted by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine and sponsored by the Wrigley Science Institute, which was founded four years ago to test customer claims that chewing gum helped them stay focused.

The researchers studied 108 pupils aged 13 to 16 years from a school in Texas. About half were given Wrigley's sugar-free gum to chew during class, homework and tests. They chewed at least one stick of gum 86 per cent of the time that they were in class and 36 per cent of the time that they did homework.

The pupils who chewed gum during maths lessons were found to achieve higher scores on a maths test after 14 weeks and better grades at the end of the term. Teachers also reportedly observed that those who chewed gum seemed to require fewer breaks and remained quieter.

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