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Maybe this is why the Doublemint Twins are so skinny.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have discovered that chewing gum raises your metabolic rate by about 20 percent, and an all-day sugar-free gum-chewer burns off the equivalent of 11 pounds of weight per year.

Seven students were hooked to a machine that uses the content of exhaled air to measure how much energy the body is consuming, according to researchers JamesLevine and his colleagues.

During a 30-minute rest period, the researchers calculated that the volunteers were consuming 58 kilocalories per hour.

When each volunteer chewed sugar-free gum at 100 chews per minute for 12 minutes, the rate shot up to 70 kilocalories per hour. A metronome was used to keep a steady chewing pace.

The effect of chewing gum on weight control, they said, "should not be discounted."

The results appear in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

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