Can Chocolate Help You Stay Thin?

Science has been in a giving mood lately. Last week, it told us that (moderate) drinking is good for creativity. This week, it has decreed that people who eat chocolate regularly are thinner than people who don't.

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego conducted a study of 1,018 healthy men and women who exercised an average of 3.6 times a week and ate a balanced diet. The results: Those who ate chocolate five times a week had a body mass index (a number derived from an individual's weight and height) one point lower than subjects who didn't.

The study, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, didn't specify whether subjects were eating dark or milk chocolate, but it builds upon earlier research that has found that eating dark chocolate may reduce the risk of heart disease. The caveat to all of these studies, of course, is that they don't give carte blanche to wanton chocolate-truffle consumption—the authors generally advise eating a square of dark chocolate each day, which isn't quite the orgy one would prefer it to be.

As a further caveat, this particular study was observational rather than done in a controlled trial where one group was given chocolate and the other a placebo. Still, everyone can agree that it's good news. And perhaps next week, we'll learn that a diet rich in runny cheese and ice cream cake is linked to superior hand-eye coordination and cognitive thinking. Dare to dream.

Photo by Christopher Rochelle / CHOW.com

Rebecca Flint Marx eats and writes in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.