Is chocloate really good for keeping weight down or is this a joke?

Folks, it’s a serious study. This week the Archives of Internal Medicine (Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(6):519-521) has published a study that attempts to seriously measure the effects of frequency of chocolate consumption and other factors. It turns out that the BMI (body mass index, a measure of weight versus height) of those individuals consuming chocolate more frequently was lower. The reason they undertook this study was because of the favorable effect chocolate has on blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels. It is rich in antioxidants, such as catechins, contributing to these wonderful correlations. The question was “did consumption cause weight gain because of the added fat and sugar normally found in chocolate?”

The study was conducted on 1016 individuals with the average age of 57. Factors such as activity, type of food consumption, gender, and saturated fat consumption were adjusted for. The study was based on a questionnaire (in other words self reporting). Now don’t get too excited and go out and gorge on chocolate. The amounts that were measured were 1 oz. quantities. They ate an average of two one-ounce servings a week. That is not a lot of chocolate (at least for me, I don’t know about you. I can eat a lof of it, I guess this is confession time. LOL.) I use cocoa powder in certain meals, like chili or just drink it like instant coffee. But apparently the benefits of chocolate are outweighed by the calorie/fat consumption in this study.

Adults who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower BMI than those who consumed chocolate less often. The findings were retained or strengthened in a range of adjustment models and was not explained by calorie intake (frequent chocolate intake was linked to more overall calories), activity, or other assessed potential confounders.

I am sure this will prompt further studies on the benefits of chocolate because it actually appears to boost the metabolism and muscular performance:

Cocoa-derived epicatechin, specifically, is reported to increase mitochondrial biogenesis and capillarity, muscular performance, and lean muscle mass and to reduce weight without changing calories or exercise in rodent studies. Parallel processes in humans, if present, could underlie our findings.

So, the answer to “is chocolate really good for keeping weight down” an unqualified “yes.” However, calories still do count and you can still gain fat by eating too much of them. However, all else being equal, it looks like metabolism gets a boost from chocolate. Well, I’m certainly not going to feel guilty any more if I indulge from time to time as this is my usual feeling:

Original article can be found at http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/extract/172/6/519