This article warning about sugar-free gums and weight loss recently was reported on BBC.
The ingredient is sorbitol which is used in many sugar-free and cosmetic products. It's also found in some natural fruits, like pears, apricots, nectarines, and some berries. Excessive use can lead to laxative effects like diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. In the two cases that are cited here from the British Medical Journal, the patients were consuming a lot of sorbitol (20g-30g) per day and had lost a significant amount of weight.
This news is really not new. The article just wanted to heed warning to consumers. Unless, you're consuming a large amount like this, there isn't much worry, in my opinion. However, some with eating disorders do become gum addicts and often replace gum for food. Sometimes I wonder if that is one of the reasons why the gum label actually says, "this is not a low calorie food."
With that being said, I admit, I do chew sugar-free gum. It's not excessive, nor do I replace gum for foods, but I maybe chew more than I should. For me, I've chewed gum forever. Heck, I even came to America with a big wad of gum in my mouth. My steadfast theory has been that I have a fear of smelly breath or halitosis.
All throughout school, I have chewed gum. Unfortunately, I got in trouble for it too and had to write out stupid sentences about not chewing gum. I never really got this reason, especially since I always disposed of it properly, i.e. not underneath a desk or some other school item, and I was not harming anyone nor disrupting education. So what did I do? I just got more discrete at hiding it. People in high school used to ask me for gum all the time, because they knew I always had it. Throughout the years, I've gotten very picky about gum, and only chew one type for its lasting flavor. I even got really upset when I could not find it around here and had my mom send me some where she found it. She told me the cashiers thought she was trying to kick the habit.
Besides the sorbitol in gum, my main concern is that it has BHT in it which has shown carcinogenic properties. I'm sure in high dosages as well, but it is used in a lot of products to preserve freshness even though it has been banned in some countries. It's interesting, because I never ever give my pets anything with additives in it, yet, I still consume some products with additives, mainly in the form of sweeteners. I'm working on it and have had some success with eliminating all diet sodas, though I never consumed them excessively. Mostly, I just use sweeteners in coffee and tea and one other soy milk product. The rest of everything else I eat is natural or organic. It's a slow process but hopefully one day I can be completely additive-free.