Ah, one of the eternal questions, right up there with "Do you really have to wait an hour after eating before you swim?" and "How many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?"
And now the question is answered at the Scientific American Web site. The old wisdom warned that you shouldn't swallow gum because it takes the body seven years to digest it. But the folks at Scientific American have investigated and the answer is ... after the jump!
Dr. David Milov of the Nemours Children's Clinic in Florida says there is no basis for this fear. Gum does not stay in the digestive tract for seven years. Dr. Rodger Little at Duke University agrees with Milov.
Now, this doesn't mean that all of us can start swallowing our gum with abandon. If a person does it on a regular basis, then there's the possibility that it could cause a blockage. So you should just continue to place it under tables and the seats of movie theaters (just kidding - don't do that either!).
Now, this brings up another question: if gum isn't swallowed, can it be considered a food?
[thanks to Scott for the tip]