Chocoholics, grin as you thin

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am


Trying to kick your chocolate habit? You may not need to. New evidence suggests that adults who eat chocolate frequently are thinner than those who don't.

A study by a team of researchers from University of California, San Diego, was published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine and funded by the US National Institutes of Health. It examined dietary, height, weight and other information provided by about 1,000 adult men and women from San Diego.

The researchers found that adults who ate chocolate on more days a week had a lower body mass index than those who ate it less often.

There was another surprising finding. 'People who ate chocolate more frequently ate more calories but did not exercise more; despite this, they weighed less,' says lead author Beatrice Golomb, associate professor in the university's department of medicine. No differences in behaviour were identified that might explain the finding as a difference in calories taken in versus burned.

However, the study did not make clear exactly how much chocolate should be eaten on a regular basis.

Golomb says chocolate has been linked to lower heart disease and more favourable lipid profiles (hence, a lower risk of coronary heart disease). It also has other metabolic benefits to blood pressure and cholesterol, health indicators that also correlate with body mass index.

Golomb's preference is for dark chocolate, which she says tends to be richer in phytonutrients - 'plant-based nutrients that we think may underlie these metabolic benefits'.

'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,' she says. 'In the case of chocolate, this is good news - both for those who have a regular chocolate habit, and those who may wish to start one.'