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Could eating chocolate make you thinner?
March 26th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Could eating chocolate make you thinner?

It's every woman's dream: could chocolate, the substance that cures everything from PMS to heartbreak,  also make you skinnier?

If true, there's got to be a catch, right?

Here's the skinny: Dr. Beatrice Golomb, associate professor of medicine at University of California, San Diego, has published a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine linking regular chocolate consumption with a lower body mass index, or BMI.

Golomb and her team surveyed 1,018 men and women aged 20 to 85 years old about their weekly food intake. Those who reported that they ate chocolate more frequently had lower BMIs. Even more surprisingly, the lower BMI group did not report eating fewer calories or exercising more than their heavier counterparts in the study.

"That does not mean that you can eat unbounded amounts of chocolate," Golomb says.

Ah, the catch.

The research is certainly intriguing. Golomb had hypothesized that the metabolic benefits of chocolate - properties that would slightly increase your metabolism - would offset the calories consumed. "I wasn’t bold enough to conjecture that the net effect would be favorable." But that's what the results showed.

Research has long revealed the heart-healthy benefits of eating small amounts of chocolate, says registered dietician Nancy Copperman, director of Public Health Initiatives at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York. Dark chocolate in particular is high in anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2006 meta-analysis of studies published between 1966 and 2005 showed cocoa may even lower blood pressure, increase HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol). More recently in 2011, researchers at the University of Cambridge analyzed the results of seven studies and concluded that high levels of chocolate consumption might be associated with a notable reduction in the risk of developing heart disease.

Still, those cardiovascular benefits come with a risk, Copperman says. "Before you start eating a chocolate bar a day to keep the doctor away, remember that a chocolate bar can contain over 200 calories, which mostly come from saturated fats and sugar."

Dr. Susan Roberts, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, has concerns about the way the study's researchers gathered their data. For instance, all of the participants in the study self-reported their meals.

"When I looked at this study, my first question was, 'Did they exclude people who were not accurately reporting their diet?'" Roberts wrote in an e-mail. "It is well known that people who are overweight or obese under-report their food intake, and what they under-report is the bad stuff."

In other words, the higher BMI group could have under-reported their chocolate intake. Or the lower BMI group could have over-estimated the total number of calories they were eating.

Roberts acknowledges the possible health benefits of chocolate - it contains caffeine, which may increase your metabolic rate.

"But having healthy constituents does not necessarily make the food good for weight control!" she wrote. "An example here would be cheese – it contains tons of calcium, but is not recommended as a panacea for obesity."

What's needed, all three women agree, are more studies to determine if chocolate's metabolic benefits really can offset the calories consumed, and help people keep their weight in check. Golomb would next like to do a randomized trial, which would include a control group and an experimental group. In such a trial, both groups would eat similar meal plans but only one would add chocolate to their diet.

Is there a way to ensure we're in the chocolate group? Because if so... sign us up.


soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Joe

    sugar free dark chocolate covered almonds. tastiest health food there is.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • babaelf

      ANY artificial sweetner is acidic-suicide.....in the health field for 29 years, my heaviest clients are the ones addicted to artificial sweeteners in any form......

      March 27, 2012 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
    • Spirit

      babaelf – I think you're right. I noticed the same thing too.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • WRG001

      I would go with a semi-sweet 73% cacao or higher. No artificial sweeteners! An acidic PH is a prescription for a host of health problems.

      March 27, 2012 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
    • Morbus

      Yeah, umm, correlation and causation are different things. Perhaps you see more overweight people using artificial sweeteners BECAUSE they're fat. People of a normal weight don't usually feel a need to cut calories by using them, do they?

      March 28, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Morbus is right. Regardless of whether artificial sweeteners are good or not, you're confusing correlation with causation in the same way as much of the reporting on this Chocolate study. Overweight people eat more artificial sweetener and less chocolate because they're trying to lose weight. Here's an article about this exact issue: http://simplehealth.co/chocolate-mondays-media-distortions-of-health-and-science

      March 28, 2012 at 22:45 | Report abuse |
  2. GBfromOhio

    I eat one or two organic 88% cocoa chocolate bites each day, too dark and not sweet enough for most people, think each one is about 50 calories and 5 grams of sugar. Good stuff.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. mikrik13

    Medical advice changes with the wind and the dollar.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ser

      so true...saw on ABC news last night that popcorn is now the cure all of the month...go figure...probably the popcorn lobby came into some money.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Absolutely right. When the medical community suggests that something is good for you I'm skeptical. The problem is that these researchers are trying to turn a complex system (the human body) into a simple one like a car. You know if you put in gasoline with a low octane rating into a car that requires higher octane you'll run into a problem. It's much more difficult to know, for instance, that increasing any nutrient will be good for you. I think the approach most likely to be helpful is "moderation in all things."

      March 28, 2012 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
  4. more2bits

    I love chocolate but am allergic to it. If I ate a lot to get thinner I really would get thinner–I would itch and scratch myself thinner!

    March 27, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greta

      I definitely agree with Debbie Innes suggestion on Xocai's cold pressed Belgian chocolate!

      This chocolate may or may not work for YOUR body "more2bits." I had recently met with a woman whom was allergic to chocolate from the time she was 15 years old, and was elated once she realized that within 24 hours of consuming Xocai's Healthy Chocolate, she had realized she had finally found a chocolate that she too could enjoy, and has continued to everyday since! On top of that she has created an amazing lifestyle from consuming & sharing her story.

      I would love to connect, and see if you too could share a similar story.

      http://gretacampagnolo.xocolatllife.com/

      March 28, 2012 at 01:17 | Report abuse |
  5. CatfishMammy

    Tyrone love chocolate

    March 27, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Gail

    I am addicted to 70-85% cocoa dark chocolate. Have been for about 5 years.
    I have a low BMI and size 4. I am slender but not anorexic looking. I don't like
    the sugar taste in milk chocolate and only eat dark. I eat very little cookies or cakes
    but prefer a couple squares of dark chocolate after dinner or before breakfast. Instead of reaching for cookies I reach for a bite of dark chocolate. One Trader Joes size bar – medium – lasts maybe 5 days.
    there is a little truth to this although my anecdote is obviously not enough to be statistically sound.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mei

      Sounds good to me. Maybe I'll see if I can get used to dark chocolate. Everything is a taste acquired, right. :)

      March 27, 2012 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
  7. ebone

    Just like smoking. Cuban people smoke cigars daily and the average life span is early ninties...low stress, lots of coffee as well. If you eat chocolate just eat dark..anything in moderation is fine

    March 27, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ser

      so does the same go for crystal meth usage? Just wondering cause i dont' see the "everything in moderation" logic when it comes to illicit drug use.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • kooolguy

      @ser maybe not meth but i certainly hope you know how beneficial marijuana is

      March 27, 2012 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • Tzedekh

      Using crystal meth would probably make you skinnier, too.

      March 27, 2012 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    I also eat tons of dark choclate. I prefer the taste over milk choclate. If you want to not gain weight lay off the sugar and the carbs. Cereals is what do most people in. I still eat some carbs as I do not believe in a completely restrictive diet. But 90% of the time it is vegies, meat, nuts, eggs, dairy, and a modest amount of fruit. But I can't really say any diet helps me more then my parents absolute refusal to give me pop and candy except as an occasional treat. The lack of a sweet tooth really helps as I always stop at 3 or 4 for any sweets or just a handful of chips when I treat myself

    March 27, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Linda

    Trader Joe's sugar-free dark choc with almonds–way to go!!

    March 27, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hatixhe

      What are the ingredients? Does it have any artificial stuff in there?

      March 27, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
  10. Ellen

    Weight management is best served by eating a wide variety of food in moderation, chocolate included. Those who do tend to keep weight in a normal range, hence the connection to chocolate with normal weight. The key is moderation, and it can be difficult for those who struggle with weight and often eat for reasons that have nothing to do with metabolic hunger.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. jenn

    I love dark chocolate covered cherries. A small handful every day or two after dinner is the perfect little dessert.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. me

    Anything with that many calories and alot of sugar cant be good for you.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. tmm

    including chocolate into your diet won't make you skinnier or fatter, watching how many calories and grams of fat per day you consume is what'll do it.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Fitastic

    The only true way to keep you calories done is to count them. I found an awesome site to use that allows you to meal plan, create shopping lists and more http://www.shoppinglistgen.com

    March 27, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Thurston Murray

    Thank you for making my day. twenty mins before reading this article I consumed some dark Chocolate. It was the first time I have had any chocolate in 6 months, as I am trying to shed some pounds...................It could be all in my head, but my mood shre is in good shape.

    March 27, 2012 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. wrm

    Eat fewer calories than you burn and you will get thinner, whether you eat chocolate or granola.

    Thinner doesn't mean healthier, but thin is easy to acquire if you're willing to control your caloric intake.

    March 27, 2012 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Its simple

    Eat what you want, just do not be a lazy slob and exercise. The most important thing if you want to loose weight is that your standing metabolism + exercise (calories burned) is greater than the total number of calories you take in.

    March 27, 2012 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Nathan

    Make sure it's fair trade, if you don't want to eat the blood of African slave children

    March 27, 2012 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Amanda

    Yes it can! Cacao is a natural, healthy food that are made not so healthy by the addition of sweeteners, fillers, etc and then they are cooked, which further reduces the nutrients. Check out http://www.welovedarkchocolate.com for healthy, diabetic-friendly, cold-processed chocolates that are full of antioxidants!

    March 27, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. BunnyBunny

    Proof God loves us women best.

    March 27, 2012 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. DyeDiet

    Watch for Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) in chocolate; this is the indication of surrogate product. Use Dye Diet resource to identify risky food additives in the American food supply.

    March 27, 2012 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Debbie Innes

    Eat this natural, unprocessed chocolate for increased energy, better health and weight loss.

    http://www.AChocolateLoversDream.ca

    And no child labor!
    "Xoçai® products contain 100% ethically traded cacao purchased from small, family-owned and operated farms on Ivory Coast. We are proud to say that no human exploitation is involved in any stage of the cacao's journey to market.
    It is the policy of MXI Corp to make sure that our contribution to the planet is positive in our interactions with other cultures and people as well as leaving as small of an environmental footprint as possible."

    http://www.mxicorp.com/csr/

    March 27, 2012 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. SPIRIT

    CHOCKLATE IS LOVE

    March 28, 2012 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Marcia

    So yesterday I just ate chocolate-4 large size Hershey bars. Too much???

    March 28, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Anne

    This is no joke! I have noticed this myself more than once – weighing slightly less the morning after snacking on chocolates. I don't know how it happens, but it does.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Snax

    Proof is in the (chocolate) pudding… Interesting. I was a 2-3 x per day dark-chocolate addict. I’m a 52 year old active male at 5’8” and 150 lbs. My new year’s resolution was to stop all chocolate. Now chocolate free for 88 days with no other change in diet, I have put on 4 pounds and have my waist size has increased 1.5”. First 3 weeks was extremely challenging with mood swings, headaches and tremors (especially after meals). My goal was to reach 100 days without Chocolate, but now... Is Doctor Godiva in the house?

    March 28, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Jim

    I like my people how I like my chocolate... I don't like chocolate.

    March 28, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. C

    This is simple....I had a bar of good organic chocolate last night (a small one) and I didn't eat dinner because I felt full. The high fat content and the serotonin release satisfied my hunger. Wasn't that why they gave chocolate bars to WWI soldiers? Maybe chocolate just makes people eat a little less than usual. Even 50 calories a day less would = big losses in the long haul.

    March 28, 2012 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 4commonsensenow

    Coffee , chocolate and bacon and eggs. living off that for years.mmm good

    March 28, 2012 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Chocoate rules supreme over all

    I didn't have to read beyond the headline to be sold on this brilliant idea.

    Mmpfh, mmpfh, mmpfh, mmpfh...

    March 28, 2012 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Stephen Ryan

    This information is exactly right. I am 145 years old (or maybe 144, I forget) and I have been eating dark chocolate as long as I can remember. It is not harmful and might be beneficial.

    March 28, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. dave

    Jenkem makes you loose weight too

    March 29, 2012 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Healthy eating disorder

    Eating the right food for your body must not just end up being targeted toward younger children ; even more mature ones will definitely require the correct eating routine. Balanced consuming ...Healthy eating

    March 31, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. EatBeyondHealthy

    Thank you for posting this! Chocolate (dark) is healthy and tasty! I really love what Jordan Rubin is doing with his new food company called “Beyond Organic.” There's Chocolate here: http://www.EatBeyondHealthy.com

    Health and Blessings!

    April 12, 2012 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. colorriot

    honestly it seems that people who eat chocolate more frequently actually track what they eat more and better.people who don't probably under report and don't track properly.

    May 29, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. zainab

    IS it true tht choclate helps in weight loss,

    July 8, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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  42. Dan Clay

    On a personal level, I have two squares of Lindt 70 percent dark chocolate dipped in herbal tea, most evenings, as my dessert. It’s a small treat that satisfies my sweet tooth without being a calorie catch out.

    October 15, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
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