Chocolate lovers tend to weigh less: report

Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:22pm EDT
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By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a new study, people who ate chocolate a few times per week or more weighed less than those who rarely indulged in the sweet.

The finding doesn't prove that adding a candy bar to your daily diet will help you shed pounds.

But researchers said it's possible that antioxidants in chocolate could be behind health benefits including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as decreased body weight.

"People have just assumed that because it comes with calories and it's typically eaten as a sweet, therefore it would inherently have been, one way, bad," said lead researcher Dr. Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California, San Diego.

To test that theory, she and her colleagues used data from a study on cholesterol-lowering drugs that surveyed 1,000 healthy adults on their typical eating habits -- including how often they ate chocolate.

The participants, who were anywhere from 20 to 85 years old, ate chocolate an average of twice per week and had an average body mass index, or BMI, of 28 -- considered overweight but not obese. (For instance, a five-foot, ten-inch-tall man weighing 195 pounds would have a BMI of about 28).

The researchers found that people who ate chocolate with greater frequency tended to eat more calories overall, including more saturated fat, than those who went light on the candy.

Even so, the chocolate lovers tended to have a lower body weight. That was still the case after researchers accounted for participants' age and gender, as well as how much they exercised.   Continued...

A model puts on a chocolate accessory backstage before the 9th Annual Chocolate Fashion Show in New York November 9, 2006. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES)