Study Shows People Who Regularly Eat Chocolate Weight Less

Eating chocolate regularly is linked to lower weight, a UCSD study has found.

Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor at the UCSD School of Medicine, presented the counterintuitive finding that more frequent chocolate consumption is linked to lower body mass index (BMI) in her most recent paper, published Mar 26 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Predictably, such tantalizing results have attracted significant media attention over the last two weeks.

UCSD researchers interviewed 1,017 otherwise healthy men and women for the study.

They gathered data on diet, lifestyle and physical activity. The team found that chocolate consumers’ average BMI was 1 kg/m2 less than that of that of those who do not eat chocolate.

The finding is statistically significant: A difference of 1 kg/m2 is too large to reasonably have occurred due to chance. The data indicates that even though chocoalte eaters consume more calories and saturated fat, they weigh less.

“Chocolate is my favorite vegetable,” Dr. Golomb said. “And that’s not completely a joke. It’s a plant-derived product that’s rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. And in moderation, it can even help you lose weight.”

The study did not take into account the amount, brand or type of chocolate. Only data on consumption frequency was used for the study.
 
“The findings don’t appear to represent a proxy for more healthful behavior overall,” Dr. Golomb said. That is, it is the consumption of chocolate itself, rather than healthy lifestyle choices that might be associated with chocolate, that seems to be behind the lower BMIs of regular chocolate consumers.

This fact offers support for Dr. Golomb’s current hypothesis that chemicals in chocolate can stimulate metabolism.
But because the data published last month were gathered from a cross-sectional study rather than an experiment, Dr. Golomb said that no causal effect can be established yet.
 
Without doubt, though, regular chocolate consumers have lower BMIs on average, despite higher overall caloric intake.
Dr. Golomb said the study’s outcome is good news for chocolate fans like herself.
 
She came up with the idea for the experiment at a medical conference.
 
The conference served generally healthy food for dinner. Dr. Golomb and a colleague were surprised by the arrival of a dessert cart containing slices of chocolate cake.

The juxtaposition of healthy and unhealthy caused Dr. Golomb to think about the health benefits of chocolate that had already been established.
 
Chocolate, she knew, is known to lower blood pressure, increase sensitivity to insulin and improve blood lipid profile. Stearic acid — the predominant fatty acid in cocoa butter — is the only saturated fat known to lower one’s LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
 
After seeing the chocolate cake served right after the healthy dinner, she began to wonder whether chocolate couldn’t help individuals manage their weight as well and then decided to conduct this study.

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