A new chewing gum will halt kids’ craving for sugar, thanks to an ancient bitter herb.
Israeli food-tech startup Sweet Victory says tiny amounts of gymnema sylvestre block the sugar receptors on their tongues for two hours, reducing the desire for sweet food or drink — and making them taste bland or even sour.
The company launched a mint-flavored version for adults in January, and is now developing a tutti-frutti gum for kids, which should hit the market later this year.
Both the child and adult versions contain gymnema, a naturally bitter-tasting botanical herb that has traditionally been used for over 2,000 years in Indian alternative medicine to stabilize blood-sugar levels. The gum is flavored to mask its bitterness.
Trials in Israel, the United States and France showed children enjoyed the gum – and couldn’t eat sweets afterwards, the company said. The active ingredient blocks sugar receptors on the tongue within two minutes.
“The biggest challenge in developing this gum for kids was to create boldly fruit-flavored chewing gum to overcome the bitterness of the herb gymnema,” said Shimrit Lev, a nutritional instructor who jointly founded the company in 2020 with psychologist Gitit Lahav.
Lev and Lahav developed the children’s version of the gum, with a lower dose of gymnema, in collaboration with Swiss flavor and fragrance manufacturer Givaudan.
“They helped us refine the product and develop a very flavorful, yet highly effective product—a sweet treat that can change eating behavior and help parents control their kids’ daily sugar consumption,” said Gitit.
Patients with sugar cravings reported beneficial effects from chewing the gum three times a day in a small study at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.
“The gum does not change the taste buds permanently; it just occupies the sweet receptors for a specific time. Most people use it during the hours they crave sugar,” said Gitit.
Further clinical research is planned for diabetic patients, with endocrinologists at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.