NEW ORLEANS — If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've probably turned to the latest product on the market for help, like supplements, drinks and devices.
But this is the first time we've looked at a chewing gum.
Her career has taken her from a hit TV dance show in the late 70s, to movies in the 80s, like 'Staying Alive,' 'A Chorus Line,' 'Flamingo Kid' and 'American Anthem.' And when she married ice hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, the ceremony was broadcast live across Canada. Janet Jones is known for her in-shape body and physical fitness. When it comes to her physique, she admits, at 5 feet 9 inches tall, she has been genetically blessed and exercises and eats right, but there have been times even she wanted to shed some pounds.
"I'm 58-years-old and I've birthed five children and so weight hasn't always been perfect for myself either,” she said. “I've wanted, after having a child, you want to lose that unnecessary weight on your body.”
And then something caught her attention called OMG for Overeating Management Gum.
"More importantly, I believed in it. I tried it and I was like, 'This is a great product, and this works,'" she said.
So, not long ago, she brought it to the attention of fitness and nutrition expert Mackie Shilstone.
"And of course, I'm very suspect until I start doing the research and I see the leading researchers behind it," Shilstone said.
Mackie says the active ingredient, Hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, is a chemical that is found in the rinds of garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit from Indonesia.
It's been a popular weight-loss supplement for years. People say it helps lower your appetite and blocks your body's ability to make fat. Other claims are that it could help keep cholesterol levels and blood sugar in range. So, after doing his due diligence on the effectiveness of OMG, Mackie decided to add it to his GNC inventory.
"You really need to take it 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, thus they came up with the idea of the gum, because one of the most effective ways to absorb is under the tongue or through the saliva," he explained.
So, he asked Newman School kindergarten teacher Marie Summitt to try the gum.
"I eat lunch very early with my class at 10:45 a.m. I get really hungry between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m. And if there's anything in the teachers’ lounge, like king cake or birthday cup cake, I might go in there and have a bite to eat," Summitt said about her daily routine.
She has a weight loss goal in mind. Her daughter's wedding is in October and she wants to take off 10 lbs. for the special day.
"Just so I would look my best and feel better too, and also I thought this was a good opportunity for me to just try and change my eating habits a little bit," she said.
Marie already walks every weekday morning and plays tennis for hours on weekends, but it's those afternoons, when she is planning her next day's lessons, where she needs the boost. So every day for a week, she's been trying OMG, chewing it 30 minutes before a meal and drinking a glass of water.
"It's been great. I may have lost a pound, not too much, but I think it takes a couple of weeks. It has helped me realize I don't need a cupcake at 3:45 in the afternoon. I can just do without until dinner time," Summitt said.
When it comes to garcinia cambogia and weight loss the Journal Obesity reports people using it in studies lost about two pounds more than people who didn't take it.
A nutrition scientist at LSU Health Sciences Center, Dr. Henry Nuss, doesn't feel the research is convincing.
When asked if it can help suppress appetite, Dr. Nuss said "It can, but probably not to the degree that most people would like it to. They've been able to show in laboratory settings that this substance does affect lipid metabolism in the sense that it can prevent the body from storing fat, but again, not to the extent that we would consider as an effective weight loss mechanism."
"What they're finding is that you're not eating as much,” Shilstone said. “Now, I have to be clear. If you think you can chew this gum and go eat everything, forget it. It's part of a comprehensive program.”
Janet attributes the gum to helping her husband, Wayne Gretzky, drop weight.
"He finally said, 'OK, I'm going to try this. I'm going to give it a shot, and he started chewing three-to-six pieces a day and over probably, a six-to-eight-week period, he lost 35 lbs.," she said.
While Marie Summitt is helping her bride-to-be daughter pick out bridesmaids dresses and go to all the food tastings to pick a caterer, she says knowing that she is going chew the gum before a meal is making her more mindful of her portion sizes.
"I'm starting off with less and realizing that's all I need," Summitt said.
Doctors warn that people taking medication for diabetes, high cholesterol or blood thinners should not use any products with garcinia cambogia in them. It can also interact negatively with medications for pain, asthma and psychiatric conditions and it should also not be used by people with kidney or liver problems.