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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 (209 Responses)
  1. bluemax77

    In a word – No!!

    March 26, 2012 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeffro B Kirk

      the no hope for a fat sh!t like me because I am allergic to chocolate.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
  2. J

    That explains my godly figure! 😉

    March 26, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Todd in DC

    Nice try. I'm trying to keep the pounds off, and one way is to not eat chocolate. 2 chocolate bars = 400 calories = a small meal.

    Dark chocolate does contains some heart healthy properties, but you can get the same anti oxidents from blue berries, black berries, and broccoli.

    Not too many marathon runners eat chocolate bars, I'm afraid.

    March 26, 2012 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shawn

      Eating chocolate needs to be smart, meaning the cocoa to carb ration remains high. This helps decrease over all wasted calories per ounce of chocolate consumed and the shifts the palatte from a sweet craving to a bitter or chocolate craving (less addictive than sugar). It is helpful for long distance runners, the theobromine is a mild stimulant (similar to caffeine) and provides lung relaxation (similar to theophylline). Contrary to popular belief, fat is not evil. So having fat calories helps promotes satiety( feeling full, which helps with diminishing the constant cravings.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Isn't it funny how Americans started become fat cows coincident with people giving up sweets, desserts, etc? Those products signal the end of the meal to the brain. IMO, people probably gorge on the main courses and get fat because there is no natural signal to indicate meal end anymore.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • Runner

      Todd, I completely disagree that marathoners don't eat chocolate bars. In fact, I would be willing to bet that runners eat more chocolate than non-runners.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:55 | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      It's probably only the high-dollar, high quality chocolate. Most candy bars sold in the big box stores and anything made by Hershey's is full of fat and sugar. That will counteract any good properties that the chocolate itself may have. I've been told (but can't say for sure) that most Hershey chocolate these days is actually just chocolate flavored and contains very little actual chocolate.

      March 26, 2012 at 20:18 | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      I'm a marathon runner who eats chocolate everyday and has a BMI under 20. It's all about portion control. I would never eat an entire chocolate bar, much less 2. However, a handful of chocolate chips and nuts makes for an awesome snack.

      March 26, 2012 at 21:35 | Report abuse |
    • Jake Ramsey

      II wouldn't make marathon runners to be paragons of health, either

      March 26, 2012 at 22:15 | Report abuse |
  4. RA Chicky

    Went on a diet for two weeks and all I lost was 14 days.....

    March 26, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Phyl

    I just ate a snicker and I don't feel skinny!!!! Got to go and work it off now...bummers 🙁

    March 26, 2012 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Phyl

    sorry...left off the word bar!! Duh...

    March 26, 2012 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. kleptiko

    If you painted the picture, there'd be thousands of fat women waddling to the chocklit shoppe. Caption: Long as you eat it on a plate, not on a napkin.

    March 26, 2012 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bob

    Good to know that this writer doesn't stereotype men and women

    March 26, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • romanlaugh

      Women of course will benefit more because anyone knows combining chocolate with estrogen is how they make heroin!

      March 26, 2012 at 18:48 | Report abuse |
  9. lkcase

    This is a very poorly designed study. Correlation =/= causation. One alternative amongst many: that slim individuals with high metabolism find they can eat chocolate without any problem, and therefore do so.

    March 26, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • svscnn

      Exactly what I took away from this. Overweight people are probably avoiding indulgences like chocolate, while thinner folks feel freer to partake.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
  10. iham

    While reporting something like this they should make not that it's almost assuredly DARK CHOCOLATE over 70% Cocoa
    Meaning that reporting like this is going to have people reading thinking hey let me go out and get one of those nice milk chocolate and caramel and.......... that I love so much and wolf 'em down.
    Less than 3oz of DARK CHOCOLATE is not the same thing as 'chocolate'

    March 26, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. bill

    I'm a dude that loves chocolate as much as any woman. Being sedentary is what allows those calories to add/build up. If you are a vigorous exerciser (yes, sex counts) and eat it in moderation it probably inhibits cortisol induced by daily stress.
    Of course heredity,metabolism play a role. I also like BigMacs and they take over an hour on a stationary bike to burn off. Some times sex is not always an option unfortunately. I don't do full marathons but I do 1/2's for the last 4 years. That's 13.1 miles. My reward at completion is a pizza. Not a slice or two, a whole pizza. And a Coke to wash it down. I love broccoli and bananas for breakfast. Give and take. Your results may vary.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. us1776

    Chocolate in moderation is good for you.

    Just like a lot of other things in life – moderation is the key.

    .

    March 26, 2012 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pan3

      Including moderation! So use moderation with moderation.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
  13. fffffff

    Only in American can this be a news article. Eat in moderation, exercise, don't be a fat slob with diabetes and you'll be OKAY.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toadears

      America is in the top ten of the fattest nations on earth. The fattest ones at the top of the list are in the south pacific islands such as Samoa. Also, in the top ten are England and Australia. You should turn off the television and limit your usage of NPR radio reports.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
  14. PatRedstone

    Raw cacoa is the best chocolate! Not only is it good for you, but it's the best tasting chocolate around. Raw vegan recipes for truffles and chocolate desserts are the best on the planet. You can buy raw cacao powder online or get it at your favorite healthy market. If you like chocolate you must try it raw!!!

    March 26, 2012 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leila

      I had a vegan chocolate cake once from a raw foods store in Paso Robles. Terrible. The worst rendition of chocolate I have ever tasted.

      March 26, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
    • D

      I had a vegan brownie (probably not raw) and it was AWESOME! The chocolate flavor was absolutely amazing.

      March 26, 2012 at 18:43 | Report abuse |
  15. FauxNews

    It's common knowledge that eating chocolate donuts makes you lose weight in your sleep.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Dottynet

    I'm sure that this would be a small piece of chocolate and not like a Snickers or some other type of candy bar.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Leila

    I I always buy dark chocolate, 85% pure cocoa. All I need is a little bite and I'm good. The darker the better....it's like taking a sip of red wine.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. cpc65

    I am living proof that it does not.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Vadgeyena

    If you eat a lot of chocalate you will shlt yourself over and over.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. KK

    nice chocolate selling technique !! but nope...

    March 26, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Vadgeyena

    Is it poop? Nope its chacolate all over the covers because I fell asleep with a candy bar.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. MysteriaKiito

    You can eat chocolate without killing your diet. The trick is to choose wisely and eat sparingly. I've lost 90 pounds since July and still eat chocolate every once in a while. My favorites are the 90 calorie Fiber One Bars, the 80 calorie peanut butter and dark chocolate granola bars, and Russell Stover's sugar free marshmallow chocolates they usually have out for the holidays. Right now Russell Stover has those eggs out and the sugar free ones I think are 70 or 80 calories off the top of my head. I let myself have chocolate once a day max, but I don't usually feel I need it everyday like I used to. Just make sure you fit it into your calorie budget for the day and you're fine.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      You might want to try extra-dark chocolate. It has a bitter edge that is not as addicting as sweet chocolate. but very satisfying.

      March 26, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
  23. toadears

    NO it does not make you thinner. Anything for a headline?

    March 26, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. cyberdew41

    I was a swimmer and body builder with a BMI of 12.5. Every day I ground 100% pure cacao nibs into my Kona coffee and had a cup after exercising. So, I don't think eating most store-bought candy will help anyone lose weight, but perhaps cacao nibs (say a tsp or two) might have some benefit?

    March 26, 2012 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      You wouldn't be alive if your BMI was 12.5. I think you mean 22.5 (i.e. normal weight).

      March 26, 2012 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
    • D is wrong.

      my BMI is less than 8% (which is a generous 8%) -- you're dead wrong there, D.

      March 26, 2012 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jay in Florida

      With a BMI of 12.5 you don't even have enough body mass to actually have the strength it takes to swim. You'd look like a dying, starving body in Africa.

      March 26, 2012 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
    • Jay in Florida

      No, D is right, and you are very confused about BODY FAT PERCENTAGE and BODY MASS INDEX. Body FAT percentage is measured in Essential ( 2 to 4% ), Athlete ( 6 to 13% ), Fit ( 14 to 17% ), Acceptable ( 18 to 25% ) and Obese ( greater than 26% ). Also, Body fat percentage is DIFFERENT for women. BMI is the same for women and for men, and it is measured in an entirely different way. NO way you can have 12.5 BMI and still walk around like a healthy person. You'd be a dying corpse.

      March 26, 2012 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
    • johnfrichardson

      D wins! D wins! D wins!

      March 27, 2012 at 07:23 | Report abuse |
  25. Linda

    When I began to consume 1/4 oz. of pure 100% chocolate a day, (no added sugar, nothing else added) my weight began to go up. Nothing else in my diet or lifestyle had changed, just the regular consumption of pure chocolate. My weight began to go up about a pound a week. And for the record, chocolate made my PMS severe, as well. When I stopped the chocolate, I began to lose weight again, though the weight loss has been slow. I don't know where they get these bogus studies from, but they never seem to apply to me and my family for some reason. Sometimes researchers see what they want to see, not what is right in front of their eyes. In the mean time, there's going to be a lot of women who think eating chocolate is going to help them gain weight, because they're also too stupid to see what's right in front of their eyes. We might as well tell people that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real, too. Tell them that you heard it in a study somewhere, and people will believe it just because it was supposedly in a study somewhere.

    March 26, 2012 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Maybe you and your family are just the odd-ball exceptions to the rule.

      March 26, 2012 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • Cocoa wow

      Not everyone's body reacts exactly the same way to what they eat. If you'll notice, the study did not show 100% positive reactions in all participants.

      March 26, 2012 at 19:01 | Report abuse |
  26. P.J.

    This article comes out right before Easter. Hmmm?

    March 26, 2012 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. wisdom4u2

    NO!! Stop eating so d amn much is what makes you 'thinner'....HELLOOOO!!

    March 26, 2012 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wisdom4u2

      Oh yeah, and exercise, too.

      March 26, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse |
  28. i_know_everything

    round is a shape

    March 26, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Pollylops

    According to my wife, yes it does.

    March 26, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Cocoa wow

    I eat the chocolate beans by themselves. This cuts out all the extra stuff like suger and milk fat that are bad.

    March 26, 2012 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chunkymunkie

      but how does it taste?

      March 26, 2012 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
  31. P

    It's all in moderation...

    March 26, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Steve

    Could drinking Budweiser improve your intellectual capacity?

    March 26, 2012 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Phat

    I've become much healthier and very skinny after not only eating chocolate, but pudding and pie as well; and I find that consuming cream puffs just before bed is helpful as well, but only if followed by half a package of gummy bears. But getting back to reality, the only thing I ever really found helpful for losing weight is a strict low-glycemic index diet. Not only does a low gly diet help with weight, it can in some instances cure type II diabetes if caught in early stages, and for reasons I do not understand it helps HDL cholesterol rise, and LDL fall. I'm sticking with low gly for good (2 years so far, and no desire to go off on any new fads).

    March 26, 2012 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Count Chocula

    I snort pure Chocolate powder every day, so I can work harder, so I can make more money, so I can snort more chocolate powder, so I can work harder...

    March 26, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Count Snortula

      LOL!

      March 26, 2012 at 22:01 | Report abuse |
    • chunkymunkie

      hi count snortula!

      March 26, 2012 at 22:26 | Report abuse |
  35. Jon

    Nothing you eat can make you thinner. You can only get thinner by what you DON'T eat. Stupid doctor.

    March 26, 2012 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      ...except Ex-Lax, chrystal meth, etc.

      March 26, 2012 at 19:39 | Report abuse |
  36. Jay in Florida

    Dr Beatrice Golomb's unbiased research was conducted at the Hershey's lab, where unbiasedly selected skinny people were chosen who volunteered to disclose information of other people they know who eat lots of chocolate, and had their picture taken instead, and the funding for the study comes from the unbiased candy maker Mars. CNN only happens to unbiasedly support Mars and other unintentionally billionaire candy makers in making sure YOU, the public can make the best possible unbiasedly uninformed decision, in favor of the poor candymakers. Thank you for reading this article.

    March 26, 2012 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. chocoguy

    We keep a bag of dark chocolate chips in the freezer, the kind intended for baking. It is easy to pull out just a few for a quick snack, and a bag lasts about a month for the entire family.

    March 26, 2012 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. glenda

    It is so very hard to leave chocolate alone. It's just to good.

    March 26, 2012 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chunkymunkie

      true dat, sistah!

      March 26, 2012 at 22:22 | Report abuse |
  39. Dave

    The article incorrectly states that chocolate contains caffeine. It contains theobromine, a cousin of caffeine that is not quite the same.

    March 26, 2012 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Durban

    I 100% agree with these findings. I am a chocoholic and I am thin. I count calories. So if I eat the two chocolate bars for 400 calories, then I skip lunch. Big deal – its worth it

    March 26, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Linda R

    I love chocolate and seem to need it just to keep my mood stable. I recently came up with a great idea, to find a healthy chocolate alternative. I found Balance Bars. They contain chocolate and are delicious, but contain a high amount of protein. This means that I'm not getting empty calories and I'm still satisfying my chocolate cravings. Plus they help you to stay fuller longer than regular chocolate bars

    March 26, 2012 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. znhcats

    But increase the opportunity of cavity! And don't forget the result of this kind of study is flip flop every now and then. There is always has chocolate in my home but I just consume it moderately even I love it deadly.

    March 26, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • R Burns

      Not necessarily. Studies have shown that some components in chocolate candy actually reduce the chance for cavities. Sugar is still bad. Brushing and/or irrigating after eating will offset even the worst cavity-promoting snacks, too.

      March 26, 2012 at 21:07 | Report abuse |
  43. GG

    People will always try to legitimize bad habits.

    March 26, 2012 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. fulgerio15

    Not for my girlfriend, she eats a few pounds of chocolate every day and can't fit through doors anymore.

    March 26, 2012 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. R Burns

    In the 1980's I had a chocolate business, supplying candy for restaurants and bakeries and delivering in costume for parties and holidays. What fun! I ate about 8 oz of chocolate a day, my own blend of milk and dark chocolates for something in between. I became deathly allergic to chocolate suddenly, and when I stopped consuming it I began gaining weight. A lot of weight over the years! Nothing else changed about my diet or physical activity, and I lament the days I was able to have my favorite snack. If you can eat chocolate, I celebrate with you!

    March 26, 2012 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. J

    that's awesome

    March 26, 2012 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Harry

    I wish it did! I would be a twig! lol...

    March 26, 2012 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chunkymunkie

      Saaaaayyyyymmmmmmeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =D

      March 26, 2012 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
  48. uponthisrock

    I eat chocolate for health reasons. Use dark choc. containing real cocoa which is the ingrediant that is healthy for you.
    Stay away from plain "chocolate" keep an eye on the ingredients, healthy choc has cocoa as it's first cheap choc has sugar
    first and this is the rule no matter aho makes it.
    Here is an example of ingredients. In the grocery store pick up a container of "Countrytime Lemonade". Lemon is not even listed!

    March 26, 2012 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Nick

    Ah, the observational study. Proving that chocolate is good for you, meat is bad, fat makes you smarter, and exercise is not required to be thin and healthy. No wonder America is fat

    March 26, 2012 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. uponthisrock

    Forgot to mention; corn syrup is being used more than sugar. Corn syrup is another killer.

    March 26, 2012 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
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