Association Between More Frequent Chocolate Consumption and Lower Body Mass Index

Study Questions:

Does modest consumption of chocolate influence fat deposition in humans?

Methods:

Men and women between the ages of 20 and 86 years, residing in San Diego, CA, who were screenees for a clinical study examining noncardiac effects of statin, were included in the present study. All participants were free from known cardiovascular disease or diabetes at entry. Chocolate consumption was assessed through a questionnaire (Fred Hutchinson Food Frequency Questionnaire), which asked: “How many times a week do you consume chocolate?” Body mass index (BMI) was determined in 95.6% of subjects.

Results:

A total of 975 subjects completed the food frequency questionnaire, including questions on chocolate consumption. The mean age of these participants was 57 years, and 68% were male. The mean BMI was 28. Mean chocolate consumption frequency was 2.0 times per week. Chocolate consumption frequency was linked to greater calorie and saturated fat intake; however, frequency of chocolate consumption was also associated with lower BMI. After controlling for multiple potential confounders including sex, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, depression, and total caloric intake, frequency of chocolate consumption continued to be associated with lower BMI.

Conclusions:

The investigators concluded that frequency of chocolate consumption was associated with lower BMI. A randomized trial would be a next step in further understanding the potential health benefits of chocolate.

Perspective:

As noted by the authors, chocolate, in particular cocoa, contains antioxidant phytonutrients, which may influence insulin sensitivity, lipids, and blood pressure. Since cocoa content varies among types of chocolate, it is unfortunate that the dietary assessment did not appear to allow for an assessment of type of chocolate consumed (e.g., dark vs. milk or percent cocoa included). Furthermore, it appears that the amount of chocolate consumed was not available. In future studies, these details would greatly add to an examination of the vascular effects of chocolate.

Clinical Topics: Dyslipidemia, Prevention, Lipid Metabolism, Diet

Keywords: Depression, Candy, Sexual Behavior, Phytochemicals, Lipids, Blood Pressure, Insulin Resistance, Fruit, Body Mass Index, Dairy Products, Vegetables, Motor Activity, Cardiovascular Diseases, Energy Intake, Questionnaires, Cacao, Diabetes Mellitus


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