Adults who eat chocolate on a regular basis are actually thinner than those who don’t.
The new evidence contradicts the common held view that eating chocolate makes you fat.
Beatrice Golomb from the University of California, in San Diego, set out to test the idea that modest, regular chocolate consumption might be calorie-neutral – in other words, that the metabolic benefits of eating modest amounts of chocolate might lead to reduced fat deposition per calorie and approximately offset the added calories.
To assess this hypothesis, Golomb and a team of researchers examined dietary and other information provided by approximately 1,000 adult men and women from San Diego, for whom weight and height had been measured.
The UC San Diego findings, published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine, were even more favourable than the researchers conjectured. They found that adults who ate chocolate on more days a week were actually thinner – had a lower body mass index – than those who ate chocolate less often.
The size of the effect was modest but the effect was “significant” – larger than could be explained by chance. This was despite the fact that those who ate chocolate more often did not eat fewer calories (they ate more), nor did they exercise more. Indeed, no differences in behaviours were identified that might explain the finding as a difference in calories taken in versus calories expended.
“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,” said Golomb. “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.”
Actress Katherine Hepburn famously said of her slim physique: “What you see before you is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.” This latest evidence suggests she may have been right.