Eat choc to drop?

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It was announced last week that chocolate can act as a slimming agent, according to researchers at Archives of Internal Medicine. The study revealed that those who eat chocolate a few times a week tend to have a lower body mass index compared to those who consume it less frequently. Additionally, it showed that regular consumers of cocoa products are less susceptible to suffering from cardiovascular disease, strokes and diabetes. The study suggested that despite its high quantity of calories, the ingredients can favour weight loss instead of fat synthesis. This remains the case even when other factors, such as the amount of exercise individuals do, are taken into account.

Image by J. Paxon Reyes

This is not the first time there have been suggestions that chocolate is good for you; other studies have shown it is good for the heart. Certain types of chocolate can be positive for changes in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels, especially dark chocolate with its levels of antioxidants.

The study was released at a similar time to criticism of the Dukan Diet which puts emphasis on a protein based diet; a regime the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister followed to get ‘that bum’ prior to last year’s Royal Wedding.

It seems nowadays people are fixated on weight-loss, hunting for quick and visible results. The only outcome, however, seems to be yo-yo dieting. The Dukan Diet, Atkins Diet and Slimfast have all received this kind of criticism in the recent past, and studies such as this of the Archives of Internal Medicine all contribute to the get-thin-quick mentality. Why are we so fixated over scientific studies which reveal certain foods will make you slim, or will reduce the risk of certain illnesses?

We have been told that red wine can contribute to a healthy heart, but also increases the risk of health problems associated with excessive weight gain; dairy products escalate the chance of cancer in women, and pregnant women should avoid a multitude of foods to protect their children. It begs the question that, in reality, if we listened to all the studies, would there be anything we could eat to maintain a healthy life?

Our grandparents generation all lead healthy lives on the whole, prior to the processed food movement. The traditional home-cooked dinner with meat and veg along with summer evenings playing outside kept them healthy and well, contrasting from today’s microwave meal and games console culture. On top of this, modern media has made us a self-conscious society. News of the Middleton sisters following the Dukan Diet promoted it and encouraged women to follow the regime in an attempt to drop a dress size. The media places so much emphasis on weight loss and how models and celebrities look that it seems people have forgotten how to feel good about themselves.

Although scientific studies are beneficial in that they advance our knowledge of the human body, too much emphasis can be placed on the idea that “x can increase the risk of y illness” and “food z will make you thin.” Maybe if people stuck to their 5-a-day and “everything in moderation,” society would be a healthier and happier one.

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