If your child has trouble with math, give her some gum and send her to school. Researchers at a Texas medical institution say gum-chewing improves math scores.

Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, recruited more than 100 eighth grade charter school students (all 14 years old) to participate in a clinical trial of how gum chewing impacts student math scores. The students were divided into two groups: gum chewing (52) and non-gum chewing (54) and were nearly equally represented between boys and girls.  

The researchers found that students who chewed gum in math class and while doing homework for 14 weeks showed a 3 percent increase in standardized math test scores compared to those who didn't chew gum.

The students who chewed gum also had “significantly better” final math grades than those who didn't chew gum, according to a press statement released by the Chicago office of public relations giant Edelman. The study was sponsored by (drum roll, please) Wrigley Science Institute.     And what kind of gum did the students chew? Wrigley sugar-free.

“Today’s competitive testing environment has parents and students looking for approaches to improve academic performance, particularly as standardized test scores have become a mandatory requirement for assessing academic achievement,” said Wrigley’s/Edelman.

The study’s sponsors suggest that gum-chewing helps “reduce stress, improve alertness and relieve anxiety.”

The study, led by Craig Johnston, PhD., of Baylor’s Children's Nutrition Research Center, was presented as a "late breaking" poster today at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) annual meeting taking place in New Orleans, La.

Johnston C A, Tyler C, Stansberry SA, Palcic JL, Foreyt JP: Gum chewing affects academic performance in adolescents. ASN Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2009, "Late breaking abstract" New Orleans, LA, April 2009.