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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 (207 Responses)
  1. chunkymunkie

    We musn't forget my darlings- chocolate DOES make the world go 'round!

    March 26, 2012 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jon ramsey

      ANother chocolate story like this, jeez. Most people who read this don't get that most chocolate is full of refined sugar and bgh-filled milk – the benefits are in the cocoa but most commercial chocolate is mostly not that.

      March 27, 2012 at 04:36 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Poor bgh. I wonder when people will finally realize that not only is it almost entirely inactive in humans (even were it to be injected, as growth hormones are highly species specific), but it's also denatured almost immediately in the stomach. (Complex polypeptides do not last long in the stomach- save for a few enzymes used in digestion). Really, you could eat a bowl of it and get nothing more than a minor stomachache.

      March 27, 2012 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
  2. Michael

    Proof I should eat chocolate!

    Carol

    March 26, 2012 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Guusje

    from the moment I read that more study was needed I was thinking that last sentence.......count me in!!!!!

    March 26, 2012 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ravi

    Hm....wondering who sponsored the research? Hershey, Cadbury?

    March 26, 2012 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Malcome

    As with ice cream, coffee, wine and beer, it's fine as long as one consumes in moderation. But when has that ever been the case?

    March 26, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. The Greek

    As a senior I keep forgeting to eat dark chocolate. I eat anything that is put out there as health. I am 82 but no erections. I still look though. Dark chocolate is good for you. I have to get off my lazy ass and work out in the gym. I go there and do nohting. For some reason I am not into exercise but I know that it is the best tool for health. Adam and Eve were into chocolate being that they were Irish, O'Hair and O'Tool.

    March 26, 2012 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spark

      I think "The Greek" is more than a lil off his rocker. They shouldn't allow access to CNN in the nursing home. And for the love of God can someone please get this guy some of those "little blue pills" .......

      March 27, 2012 at 08:12 | Report abuse |
    • Its-BJ

      thank you for the laugh...

      March 27, 2012 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
  7. John

    People, if you are duped by these kinds of unscientific studies, you only have yourself to blame. Ask who funded the study. I would not be surprized if it was a well known candy bar manufacturer.

    If you're confused after reading the article, the answer is that you should lower your daily calorie intake by cutting down on high energy foods like candy bars, pastries, cakes, ice creams, fat and lard filled foods, and your weight will go down. Study that sentence for a long period of time, do what it says, and you will arrive at the weight you want to be at.

    March 26, 2012 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Flamingo Kid

      Okay, Mr. Rogers.

      March 27, 2012 at 00:18 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Agree completely. The tiny stimulant effect of chocolate is going to do nothing, and anyway, causality is not shown in this study. The author gets her 15 minutes of fame.

      March 27, 2012 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
    • johnfrichardson

      I looked up who funded the study. It was government funded.

      March 27, 2012 at 07:14 | Report abuse |
  8. Chocolate Lover

    Chocolate does not contain Caffeine, it contains Thebromine. Similar molecule but definitely not the same thing.

    March 27, 2012 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • neurosurge

      Cocoa beans DO HAVE CAFFEINE in them, as do coffee beans, and also toxic theobromine. Caffeine is a natural pesticide that the beans produce to deter other organisms (humans, animals, insects) from eating them to ensure reproduction of the plant for the next generation. Caffeine is a stimulant and a drug, so of course it will speed up your metabolism. It is essentially natural speed. It causes a insulin response; therefore, wearing out your pancreas (depending on how much tea, chocolate, coffee, caffeinated soda) you consume, which causes type II diabetes.

      My guess is the chocolate industry gave a researcher to say find some potential benefits of chocolate and they have been greatly exaggeratted and falsified. Unfortnunately, people that do not know any better will believe this phony information. Do your own homework and research, but watch where you get your research from, as it can be phony like this. When you are chemist, as I am, it is easier to understand the truth. Not everyone understands science though.

      March 27, 2012 at 00:25 | Report abuse |
    • jay

      neurosurge you must live in such a sad, sad, world. I feel sorry for you.

      March 27, 2012 at 00:51 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Sad, sad world? That's a laugh. Actually, neurosurg, along other life scientists, lives in a world of endlessly fascinating biological complexity and wonder. You could appreciate it too, but you'd have to do some hard work to get there, as they did.

      March 27, 2012 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
    • Cap'n Rita

      @Neurosurge-Wow! Full of yourself much?
      To everyone else who got on their sanctimonious high-horse. We're talking about chocolate, here. We are NOT discussing a cure for cancer or AIDS. Lighten the heck up. I would venture that MOST of us understood that the research is severely flawed and couldn't give a rat's patootie who funded it. Here, have a nice piece of Godiva and relax!

      March 27, 2012 at 06:35 | Report abuse |
  9. mythreesonsmom

    I have been eating cold pressed high antioxidant and have been losing weight. I lost 64 pounds so far. Xocai Healthy Chocolate came out with a chocolate weight loss shake and their weight loss study made the cover of the American Journal of Bariatric Medicine. Check it out here. http://160328.myxocaidiet.com/file/mxi-corp-press-release-american-journal-of-bariatric-medicine or visit http://LiveForChocolate.com

    March 27, 2012 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. mythreesonsmom

    Sorry meant to say I have been eating cold pressed high antioxidant chocolate. Their is even a weight loss show on NBC Chicago with Andrea Metcalf that has a person losing weight on the Chocolate Diet. The gal lost 44 pounds in 1 month. There must be something to this chocolate! http://LiveForChocolate.com

    March 27, 2012 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. countrycook

    I don't know if it makes you thinner but it sure makes me HAPPY !

    March 27, 2012 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • krehator

      So true. If your in a rotten mood, have some chocolate. I don't know anyone who cannot feel better after some sweets.

      March 27, 2012 at 01:27 | Report abuse |
    • BeCareful

      That's the insulin spike you're feeling. As long as you don't get overzealous with the choco intake, it's not a bad thing.... but don't use it as your sole mood modulator, or you'll end up looking like pizza the hutt.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
  12. chris

    so, are they going to do an expanded study and where do I sign up?

    March 27, 2012 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. paganguy

    I eat dark chocolate (72%) every day because it tastes sooooo gooooood. Oh yummy.

    March 27, 2012 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Christine

    This is old news– remember the book "French Women Don't Get Fat" http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/french-women-dont-get-fat-diet where it recommends a square of dark chocolate every day. Key is- SMALL square and DARK chocolate.

    It makes me sick to think of all the diet companies that are going to try to use this study to market fake food that tastes like chocolate.... ugh!

    March 27, 2012 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mary Robinson

    I was eating a chocolate cupcake while reading this. Now...I'm thinking to myself: go ahead, have another one. It is good for you. :)

    March 27, 2012 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michelle

      haha. awesome!

      March 27, 2012 at 07:23 | Report abuse |
  16. Patrick

    You can eat cacao nibs rather than chocolate, getting the health benefits and avoiding any added sugar. Cacao is great with a banana and some yogurt. Cacao is high in oxalates, so be aware that it is not without it's issues. Eating the cacao with a food containing calcium allows the calcium to bind the oxalates and prevent them from being absorbed. Cacao has a very high ORAC value. Some people react to the theobromine in cacao as others do to caffeine, but most do not.

    March 27, 2012 at 01:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. krehator

    I really do not trust many medical studies. They seem to go back and forth over the years. Bottom line......I like dark chocolate, and that is why I eat it.

    March 27, 2012 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Julian

    I eat 92% dark chocolate, it takes some time to get used to the flavor.

    March 27, 2012 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Epidi

    Thinner schminner! All I know is choclate makes me happy!

    March 27, 2012 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. SexualChocolate

    This will cause a surge in fat bitcches, don't do it I don't like fat broads, they eat too much and cause cancer.

    March 27, 2012 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cap'n Rita

      Pigs like you cause everything else that's wrong with this world. Grow up.

      March 27, 2012 at 06:39 | Report abuse |
  21. fel

    I dip milk chocolate in fish sauce with a touch of curry paste and honey...yum!

    March 27, 2012 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. /sigh

    I hate these articles, it gives fat people a reason to consume excessivve amounts of something because they, "saw on the news it helps you lose weight".
    The fact of the matter is you can eat ANYTHING as long as you do it in MODERATION, something overweight people are unable to do because their brain has no self control mechanism.
    Fat people are simply the next down's syndrome, a defect of a human being that stagnates our species further.
    I really don't care if I am being mean, if you do not agree with me you are probably fat, even if you claim otherwise.

    March 27, 2012 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Combover

    Chocolate covered bacon for me!!!

    March 27, 2012 at 05:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Vinny

    No only chocolate, donuts can also do the job!

    March 27, 2012 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Combover

    Ex-Lax chocolate always helps me lose weight!

    March 27, 2012 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin

      Chase a chocolate bar with a piece of Ex-Lax...problem solved :)

      March 27, 2012 at 08:28 | Report abuse |
  26. greenland

    It's every woman's dream!
    /faceapalm

    March 27, 2012 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. JeffinIL

    If eating chocolate will help me lose weight, then dipping the chocolate in pudding should make me positively anorexic. If I wash it all down with a Coke, I may just disappear without warning.

    March 27, 2012 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Olof Larsson

    Most "chocolate" is mostly just sugar. I recommend chocolate bars with at least 80% cocoa. Once you go real chocolate, you'll never go back. It is really yummy!

    March 27, 2012 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Michelle

    What I get from the article is that people who are choosing to eat chocolate have a lower BMI than the people who chose to eat something different; doesn't claim to make them thinner, they just ARE thinner. When we choose our sweets the people who choose chocolate over let's say...pineapple upside-down cake are consuming completely different ingredients and those ingredients may not be has unhealthy as what's in the pineapple upside-down cake. I'll choose chocolate over any other dessert any day, and NOT because I've read this article...

    March 27, 2012 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. ArranWebb

    Research? Research is the probability of getting the result you want with the means you have and the methods you choose.

    March 27, 2012 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Tangjc

    The research was made for the chocolate maker?

    March 27, 2012 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Tobias

    Correlation does not equal causation. This is another study which ignores this very basic rule. The article shouldn't suggest that chocolate itself makes you thinner, because the real reason is probably a social or economic one, e.g. people who eat chocolate are (on average) wealthier and can afford an otherwise healthier lifestyle etc.

    March 27, 2012 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Meeeh

      The studies don't really ignore it so much as the news media ignores it. I'm sure the study doesn't claim anything more than a positive correlation, but that doesn't stop the news media from picking it up and having their way with it.

      March 27, 2012 at 09:51 | Report abuse |
  33. Ballson Chinn

    I made chocolate in my pants.

    March 27, 2012 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. ButtonPopper

    I once read that chocolate, when eaten, stimulated the nerves in and around the mouth more than a passioniate kiss did.

    All I can say to that is that someone doesn't know how to kiss. ;)

    March 27, 2012 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Henry

    Eating is taking calories into your body and it makes you FAT when you consume more than what you need. If you want to loss weight, eat LESS and exercise MORE. There is no alternative...nice wishful thinking but EATING chocolate wouldn't help you loss weight.

    March 27, 2012 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Flyer

      At a younger age, I went thru a spell that I wanted to put on weight. I drank 2 chocolate shakes a day, plus the "protien shakes" with meals on top of all that. I did this for 2 weeks and lost 10 lbs. After speaking with a body builder that use to come in my place of business at the time advised me that all I was doing was speeding up an already fast metabolism.

      After following the recommendation of my customer and indulging in a high intake of protein and amino acids, only then was I able to gain weight. But that was almost 20 years ago and I don't have that same problem today. Anyhoo, less calories don't always point to weight loss. I'm proof of that. Peace.

      March 27, 2012 at 08:36 | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      the words "high metabolism" that you used is the key...as one aged, body metabolism goes sluggish. In order to maintain reasonable fitness, older (roughly >=25) people can no longer count on his/her natural bodily metabolism to do the magic anymore and have to work much harder and eat lesser. Of cause, it is another story and outcome if one dose not care about "fitness".

      March 27, 2012 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
  36. Mike S

    The other question I have is whether people who ate chocolate and have a lower BMI already have a high metabolic rate. People with a high metabolic rate tend to eat more (including chocolate) because they don't gain as much weight. People with a low metabolic rate tend to gain weight easily and therefore may watch what they eat including a lower consumption of chocolate.
    I am not so sure that the cause and effect has been truly established...

    March 27, 2012 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Rasmus

    So the article says chocolate is not bad for you when you don't occupie too much. But how much is too much?

    March 27, 2012 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. BGMchocolate

    Losing weight? I eat chocolate because it's tasty and makes me feel joy joy joy joy deep in my heart.

    March 27, 2012 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. AEpicStranger

    Hmmm... Now I know what my next scientific project will be.

    March 27, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Pauline

    They should have conducted the research in the way suggested at the end, having one control group and one experimental group. The results will be more accurate. One can always eat dark chocolate as a healthier choice.

    March 27, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Truthform

    This is what I thought when reading this : The people who ate more chocolate had a lower BMI because they allowed themselves to eat more chocolate because they are already in shape to begin with, whereas the people with high BMI were likely less inclined to eat chocolate because they are heavy to begin with. Therefore I conclude that this whole study is redonkulous.

    March 27, 2012 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Except, you will not find that to be the truth very often. People who are in really good shape tend to have really good eating habits. The article points out that it is likely that the heavier people underreported their consumption and lighter people probably overreported. I also wonder if there is a difference in the sources of chocolate. There is an enormous difference in a couple of bites of dark, dark covered strawberries, or post-run chocolate milk vs. a chocolate dipped ice cream, Snickers, or Oreos. When people reported a serving of something like Oreos were they eating ten or twelve when a serving is more likely to be two to four?

      March 27, 2012 at 10:07 | Report abuse |
  42. Mike

    I think whenever an article like this is released, that is when there is research many people wish very badly to be true, that certain practicle clarifications are warranted. For instance, there is a big difference in consuming a couple of pieces of bitter dark chocolate and eating milk chocolate or white chocolate, which is hardly chocolate at all. It is also a very different food when you start stuffing the chocolate with other treats, which are often high in fat and sugar. The article does touch on this fact, but it is not made as clear as it probably should be.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. gdalmuriel

    Hey guys, I found the REAL secret to staying healthy and fit! It's an easy trick that works for 100% of people, 100% of the time.

    It's called exercising.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Scrape

    Hmmm...no.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Great!!

    Maybe they will add this to the Biggest Loser TV show and have those fat hippos stop running around.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Betty

    Why not just put the chocolate into capsules and run a normal double-blind study with placebo pills?

    March 27, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Bill

    I have a horrible diet. My diet consists of a chocolate poptart 75% of mornings (eggos or toast with choc milk the rest), fast food lunch, snack in between, a dinner (usually meat & potatoes, occasional veggie) and then snacks at night, usually double stuffed oreos the last year or two. I have 10% body fat and a great BMI. I weigh 152 and would like to get another 10 pounds or so eventually. I fear my checkups but they always say I'm doing great. How? I don't know. I've heard all my life how it will change when I hit 30, 35, now 40 they say. I exercise regularly (rec soccer player). I do pop a vitamin every morning. I worry about my diet sometimes but so far it has done me well. Maybe I just have good genetics but honestly I think its the exercise that keeps me slim. Diet is very important but people worry so much about calories and what they eat. I do not. Sometimes I feel like I need a fruit or veggie, and so I eat one. I "listen" to my body and hopefully I'm hearing it correctly. I have only had the experiences of my life but from my angle it seems like it is all about exercising 2-3x a week.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Smalltowner

    During High School I was a three sport letterman and I consumed a dozen or more chocolate Hershey bars and almonds a day,....never gained a pound always stayed fit and trim.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. TheMovieFan

    No.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. CatfishMammy

    Da good Lawd done give us da chocolate to keep da Debil away from our thighs!!!!!! Praise Jesus and he chocolate bunnies!!

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