An easy way to control those hunger pangs would be to pop a chewing gum into your mouth before an afternoon snack, say researchers.
The researchers, led by Marion Hetherington, D.Phil., Professor of Biopsychology at Glasgow Caledonian University in Glasgow, found that chewing gum can help reduce cravings and control appetite.
It also helps promote fullness among people who limit their overall calorie intake.
Nutritionists say that even small changes in calories can have an impact in the long term.
As a part of the study on the effectiveness of gum, researchers asked 60 people between the ages of 18 to 54 to consume a sweet and salty afternoon snack after chewing a sweetened gum or not chewing gum.
They then checked for hunger, appetite and cravings immediately after lunch, and then hourly.
Apart from reducing caloric intake by 25 calories, the researchers also found that it specifically reduced sweet snack intake by 39 calories; and salty snacks by 11 calories.
Hunger and desire to eat were significantly suppressed by chewing gum at one, two and three hour intervals after lunch.
Participants reported that chewing gum improved their mood by reducing anxiety and stress, and increasing contentment and relaxation.
In a similar study among individuals not actively trying to manage their weight, chewing gum reduced snack intake by average of 36 calories.
Data combined from both studies found that chewing gum reduced intake of the sweet snack in particular by an average of 47 calories.
The research study is to be presented at the 2007 Annual Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society.