MYTHconceptions 6-27: The 7 Year Wad
Hubba Bubba party! Today the young scientists tested the popular myth: gum takes 7 years to digest in our stomachs. They chewed and chewed, and used vinegar to stimulate stomach acid. The chewed gum was compared to other unchewed gum and food we know our bodies easily digest, like bread. They used their new digestion vocabulary (mechanical and chemical processes) to examine what happens to gum in the mouth.
Ask your student: What happens to things that we eat that are indigestible? (they pass out the other end as solid waste— this mostly includes fiber from fruits and vegetables, but could include indigestible gum too) Does gum really stay in your system for 7 years? (No! On average, it takes 24-35 hours for food to be completely digested, and in this time the gum would be passed out with other indigestible food components).