People who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner than those who never or very rarely consume chocolate, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, reported in Archives of Internal Medicine. The authors added that some kinds of chocolate had previously been found to improve factors related to metabolism, including insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, as well ascholesterol levels.
Because of the high-calorie values of most chocolates, many people avoid them in their attempts to control their body weight.
Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., and team gathered data on 1,018 adults, both male and female. None of them had any known chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or unfavorable LDL-C (bad cholesterol) levels - they were all screened for overall health when the study began.
The volunteers were given questionnaires which included questions about their weekly chocolate consumption rates. 975 of them completed the chocolate-related questions. 972 of them had their body mass indexes (BMIs) measured.
The authors noted:
"Adults who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower BMI than those who consumed chocolate less often."
The volunteers' average as was 57 years. Among the males (making up 68% of total participants), their average BMI was 28. Their chocolate consumption was, on average, twice weekly. The males exercised 3.6 times weekly.
Despite being leaner than non-chocolate eaters (or those who rarely ate chocolate), the authors found that regular chocolate eaters consumed more calories, including higher amounts of saturated fat. They had already factored out certain variables which could have affected their findings, such as people's age, gender, how physically active they were, etc.
How often chocolate was eaten mattered more than how much
It was not the total amount of chocolate each week that was linked to lower BMI, but rather how often chocolate was eaten - the more regular eaters tended to be leaner, the researchers explained.
The researchers stressed that their findings are not proof that a bar of chocolate a day will help you lose weight. It was a small study, and was not one which proves cause-and-effect. They believe that perhaps the antioxidants in chocolate may play a role in certain factors which are linked to lower body weight.
The authors wrote:
"In conclusion, our findings - that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI - are intriguing. A randomized trial of chocolate for metabolic benefits in humans may be merited."
The US NIH (National Institutes of Health) funded the study. None of the researchers has any links with chocolate makers.