Chocolate contains a lot of fat and sugar, yet, despite that fact, people who regularly eat chocolate supposedly are thinner than those who don’t. That was the result of a study done at the University of California at San Diego, now being talked about everywhere. Is it too good to be true?
Eat Chocolate, Be Thinner?
Lead researcher Beatrice Golomb and here colleagues assembled 1,000 people, questioned them about their nutritional habits and calculated their Body-Mass-Index (BMI). What they found was that regular chocolate eaters had lower BMIs than those who aren’t that much into chocolate. Even when activity levels were accounted and despite the fact that the chocolate eaters reported eating more calories. Golomb commented in the Wall Street Journal:
Our findings appear to add to a body of information suggesting that the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining their ultimate impact on weight.
That is a tall order. And, without a doubt, will be reported forth and back, as already now various news sources quasi breathlessly talk about it.
A Closer Look
Well, I have my doubts. Or better, I would be more willing to believe in these findings had the study been conducted better.
First of all, it excluded anyone suffering from diabetes, heart problems or extreme blood lipids – basically anyone who at first glance we might classify as a person more likely to eat loads of chocolate. What was left was a special population sample that was overweight, but otherwise perfectly healthy. I doubt that is representative of regular chocolate eaters.
Second, the study didn’t directly control what people ate, but relied on self-reporting, which can taint results. Some people knowingly report false data, a behavior called the “social desirability response”, an attempt to look good to the researcher. Others simply guess or are convinced what they remember is the truth – it’s like asking five witnesses at a car accident what happened and getting six accounts. Can you fully remember what you ate seven days ago?
Third, the study also didn’t record what kind of chocolate was eaten – dark or milk. This seems a rather apparent oversight, as there is at least a bit of evidence showing that dark chocolate can lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Hold Your Horses
Given these shortcomings the safest thing to say about this study is that it should be replicated under better conditions, before we come to conclusions as grandiose as those of Mrs. Golomb. Until then it is much safer to assume that eating too much chocolate will still very likely end up on your waist line.
Picture courtesy of “EverJean“.