Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size
A
A
A

Eat More Chocolate, Weigh Less?

People Who Frequently Eat Chocolate May Weigh Less
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 26, 2012 -- People who are trying to lose weight may not need to bar chocolate from their diets.

A new government-funded study of nearly 1,000 healthy adults shows that people who frequently eat chocolate actually weigh less than those who say they eat it less frequently.

Study researchers say that people who reported eating chocolate five times a week had a body mass index (BMI) about one point less, on average, than people who said they ate chocolate less frequently. For a woman who is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds, one BMI point equals about five pounds.

That’s despite the fact that frequent chocolate eaters also reported eating more total calories and more saturated fat than people who ate chocolate less often.

Researchers say that may mean that the calories in chocolate are being offset by other ingredients that boost metabolism.

“With modest amounts of chocolate, they may have the effect of being free calories or even better than free -- at least, the associations look that way,” says Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Does Chocolate Aid Weight Loss? Experts Remain Skeptical

Nutritionists who were not involved in the study aren’t convinced that chocolate reduces body weight.

“I think it’s kind of a stretch,” says Nancy Copperman, RD, CDN, director of public health initiatives at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.

“Does it convince me that I should recommend that people eat chocolate to lose weight? No,” she says.

The study was observational, which means it can’t prove that chocolate causes weight loss.

Instead, other experts say, the study might actually say more about the kind of people who feel free to nibble on chocolate several times a week as opposed to people who don’t indulge.

Eating chocolate may be “a marker for lifestyle and relaxed attitudes toward eating -- healthy attitudes,” says Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University. Nestle is not related to the chocolate company, and she wasn’t involved in the study.

Researchers say they looked for other things that might explain the weight differences they saw, but chocolate eaters didn’t appear to exercise more or engage in other kinds of behaviors that might explain why they were slimmer than non-chocolate eaters.

Dark Chocolate Can Be a Dieter’s Friend

Still, as treats go, chocolate has many qualities that make it a good choice for people who are watching their weight, some experts say.

David Katz, MD, MPH, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., says dark chocolate is a particularly smart choice for dieters.

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
feet on scale
Blog
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
pantry
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens