By Dorothy Rosby
My Easter basket was a little bigger this year. And it wasn’t full of hardboiled eggs and Easter grass either. Shortly before Easter I heard about a fascinating study linking frequent chocolate consumption to lower body mass index, or BMI. I did not make this up, though it does sound like the kind of thing I would make up.
An associate professor of medicine at the University of California and her team surveyed more than a thousand men and women about their weekly food intake. Those who reported eating chocolate less frequently had higher body mass indexes. In other words, they were heavier than those who reported eating chocolate more often! Now there’s news you can use!
My first question was who paid for the study? Ghirardelli, Hershey’s, Mars? I’m cynical by nature, plus I wanted to write and thank them. So I read every article I could find about the research, but I couldn’t find the name of the sponsor. I did get really hungry for chocolate though.
And I could finally feel good about buying it! For years I’ve denied myself. Or rather, for years I’ve thought I should deny myself. No more. But I’m determined not to go overboard like I did back when I heard that eating oily fish is good for your heart. I went out and bought a crate of herring.
No, I’m kidding. I didn’t do that. But I did buy A LOT of Easter candy this year. You may be wondering what my body mass index is after letting myself go like that. BMI is determined by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703. In other words, it’s none of your business.
I will say this much: My jeans still zip. That’s a surprise, because even if chocolate consumption does lower BMI, I doubt the same can be said for the peanut butter or the malted milk inside.
I have some concerns about the study anyway, the main one being that it relied on participants to report accurately and honestly how frequently they’d eaten chocolate in the past. Didn’t it occur to the researchers that chocolate eaters might . . . uh . . . fudge the numbers a little?
It should also be noted that the study focused on how often subjects ate chocolate, not how much of it they ate. So the researchers couldn’t make any recommendations about how much chocolate one must eat to lower BMI. And I want to know! Or maybe I don’t want to know. Some studies linking chocolate consumption to good health say all that is needed is a square a day. But a square what? A square foot?
Other studies say as little as four grams a day is all it takes. Anymore than that is extra calories. I have no experience with grams, except for graham crackers. And I don’t think that’s where the term comes from. So in the interest of science, I went out and bought myself a Hershey bar. I was shocked to read on the label that my little candy bar weighed 43 grams. If I were to eat just four grams a day, it would take me 11 days to eat that candy bar and on the last day, I’d be forced to have a couple of Hershey kisses to round it up to four grams.
No chocolate fan I know could eat just four ounces of chocolate and leave the rest for another day. It’s clear to me this important topic deserves a lot more study. So I ate the Hershey bar.