I have many of the same concerns. The main one is that the folks who eat a lot of chocolate may simply lead healthier lives.
Other concerns I have about the study include:
- Just like in the red meat study, is that the amount of chocolate eaten is determined by self-reporting, which is not reliable. For example, unhealthy people may simply have under reported their chocolate intake.
- Small sample size. The study contained 1,000 people. That’s small.
- The average age was 57 and we don’t know how long these folks have had their chocolate habit. In 57 years, there could be many more things that influence health than chocolate consumption.
So, it’s possible that this research shows that healthier people in this group of 1,000 said they eat more chocolate than the less healthy people, which really doesn’t mean much.
I will, however, give the researcher credit. She wasn’t nearly as pompous about her findings as the red meat researcher. When asked if we should all eat more chocolate she responded:
Our findings – that more frequent chocolate intake is linked to lower BMI – are intriguing, however it is not a siren call to go out and eat 20 pounds of chocolate a day.
Though, I’ll point out that while linked is a better word than causes, I think the statistically-challenged will not appreciate that fine point and will likely treat the two words as synonyms.