March 26, 2012
Chocolate Keeps Weight Down?

Some reasonable people will point out this study does not prove a causal relationship or the direction of causation. But as with many other great pleasures, I've never tried to be reasonable about my chocolate eating. I'm skinny and I eat chocolate. I'm going to believe that's not a coincidence until proven otherwise.

CHICAGO More frequently eating chocolate was linked to lower body mass index (BMI), according to a research letter in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Consumption of certain types of chocolate has been linked to some favorable metabolic associations with blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol level. However, because chocolate can be a calorie-laden sweet there are concerns about eating it.

Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues with the University of California, San Diego, studied 1,018 men and woman without known cardiovascular disease, diabetes or extremes of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels who were screened for participation in a clinical study examining noncardiac effects of statins. To measure chocolate consumption, 1,017 of the participants answered a question about how many times per week they ate chocolate. BMI was calculated for 972 of them. Of the participants, 975 completed a food frequency questionnaire.

"Adults who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower BMI than those who consumed chocolate less often," the authors note.

Participants had a mean (average) age of 57 years, 68 percent were men and the mean BMI was 28. They ate chocolate a mean (average) of two times a week and exercised 3.6 times a week.

"In conclusion, our findings that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI are intriguing," the authors conclude. "A randomized trial of chocolate for metabolic benefits in humans may be merited."

I'm not going to enroll in a randomized trial where I might get put into the no-chocolate group. I'm also not going to go into any no-blueberry, no-strawberry, or no-kiwi fruit control group (among others).

Katherine Hepburn knew.

Katherine Hepburn famously said of her slim physique: "What you see before you is the result of a lifetime of chocolate." New evidence suggests she may have been right.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 March 26 10:41 PM  Aging Diet Weight Studies

PacRim Jim said at March 26, 2012 10:47 PM:

Chocolate might keep off weight, but it won't keep arteries open, if our current medical understanding is correct.

Mthson said at March 27, 2012 12:16 AM:

I use raw cacao powder, but the taste is only neutral, and it doesn't seem to have the stress reduction properties of candy chocolate.

My reasoning is that it's best to get the chocolate without the sugar, and in as close to its original form as possible.

What do you guys think?

Nick G said at March 27, 2012 4:47 PM:


That's very reasonable. There's other research showing health benefits from high cacao chocolate.

Which is kind've too bad...

Fustian said at March 28, 2012 10:57 AM:

I can't help suspecting that fatter people avoid chocolate as much as they can.

If I were skinnier, and thought I could get away with it, I'd have chocolate every day.

This might explain the study.

Formerly known as Skeptic said at March 28, 2012 11:01 AM:

As you say "reasonable people will point out this study does not prove a causal relationship or the direction of causation." Without further study I can reasonably conjecture that chocolate is one of the first things that someone who is overweight cuts back on or gives up altogether leading to the unsurprising result that skinny people eat more chocolate!

John said at March 28, 2012 12:16 PM:

And yet somehow, Dr. Golomb will never receive a Nobel Prize for this...this masterpiece of scientific research.

I blame Big Veggie.

Anna said at March 28, 2012 1:01 PM:

PacRac Jim, I'm reading "Why we Get Fat," and I would argue that our "current medical understanding" is very likely incorrect.

Heather said at March 28, 2012 1:23 PM:

I would guess that people who can eat chocolate frequently, but not overindulge, have an entirely different set of eating patterns than those who have trouble putting the sweet stuff away.

Joseph Hertzlinger said at March 28, 2012 1:47 PM:

This may be evidence against the Paleolithic Diet. I don't think Neanderthal Man had chocolate available.

Scott said at March 28, 2012 2:29 PM:

There is an island off of Panama, I believe, where the Indians eat mostly fish and cacao. They have virtually no cardiovascular disease. Recently some of the Indians have moved to populated areas off the island and they have started developing cardiovascular disease after eating the local diet.

From this, studies have shown that it is the chemicals in cacao that are responsible.

Nick G said at March 28, 2012 3:48 PM:

I saw a nice controlled study recently where Chronic Fatigue patients were given 85% cacao chocolate: the study group improved, and they didn't gain weight compared to the control group.

navytech said at March 28, 2012 4:26 PM:

I ate 100gr/day of 60% cacao (or better) from around 2007-2010. All I was trying to do is slow further progression of my (then) stage III CKD. Frankly, when my appetite first diminished I thought the worst. Medical tests combined with trial and error isolated the appetite effect to the chocolate. (confirmed by re-challenge) Today, not only have my kidneys returned to (and stayed) normal!! (My Nephrologist told me I didn't need to be seen anymore, but told me to STOP LOSING THE WEIGHT). Admittedly, I did look like a cancer patient by then.

I had lost 70 LBS.

That was 2 years ago. Since then, I've modulated my chocolate intake and gained 1/3rd of the weight back; I look much healthier.

Randall Parker said at March 28, 2012 7:49 PM:


What a great story. Glad to hear you came back from stage 3 kidney failure. That's great.

You give me more reason to eat chocolate too. Not that I need any more reason, mind you. But your story will enhance the chocolate eating experience.

Joseph Hertzlinger said at March 28, 2012 8:53 PM:

I noticed that the sample size here is much larger than in most similar studies. This just might possibly make some sense.

navytech said at March 29, 2012 6:06 AM:

All of the studies of chocolate's very real health benefits currently carry a mandatory conventional-wisdom warning against calories, weight gain, and the most certain doom from eating chocolate. My personal and intense "longitudinal study of one" forces ME to conclude the conventional wisdom is clueless. If this ever becomes the new and improved medical conventional wisdom, the surge in demand from the eat-chocolate-to-lose-weight craze will cause the price to skyrocket. It's now around $12-$20/Lb. (My 100gr/day equaled 80Lbs/year.) Cacao is hard to grow so we will probably need to GE/splice whatever beneficial factor is within chocolate.

Is the future here yet?

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