Friday, 16 September 2011

Get Ripped by Scoffing Chocolate


The world press has gone ABSOLUTELY CRAZ-EE with this fabulous piece of news, 'SCIENTISTS' claim, 'eating chocolate may be as good for you as going to the gym', ' eating chocolate is as good as jogging', 'as good as exercise'.


OM-NOM-NOM - CHOCOLATE
Image: André Karwath aka Aka
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chocolate.jpg)


WOWZERS. As if we needed another excuse to skip a gym session and eat more chocolate. Unfortunately, none of the headlines above are true. Sorry. Here's why:

- The study was small and carried out on MICE. Not people.

- The mice were not given chocolate, they were given an extract, (–)-epicatechin (which is found in chocolate). There is nothing to say how much chocolate (and what types of chocolate) you would have to consume to get the benefits that were seen in mice. You might have to eat 5 bars of chocolate a day to get those levels of (–)-epicatechin, who knows. Chocolate contains lots of other things, namely fat and sugar (which is why we like it). They did not investigate chocolate vs exercise in this study, they investigated (-)-epicatechin.

- They only measured certain benefits of exercise, namely muscle performance. Exercise is known to have a whole host of other benefits, which were not assessed. The paper actually found that there were no differences in muscle mass between the groups.

It is impossible, incorrect and irresponsible to conclude that eating chocolate is as good for you as a gym session. The researchers did not conclude that either. The press did and/or the journal press department did.

The research is valid and interesting but it doesn't mean we can stop going to the gym. The news coverage of this story not only misrepresents the science, it is completely irresponsible. The U.K. (and other parts of the world) has a serious obesity problem. Reporting that chocolate, 'is as good as going to the gym' does not help the fight against the flab. It only encourages consumption of high fat food.

The research was published in the Journal of Physiology (paper available to read via this link). A peer reviewed scientific journal (therefore, 'good'). The NHS Choices website have already carried out a really good debunking of the news coverage, so I have just summarised why the news coverage is untrue - for a more in depth coverage of the paper vs the news, see here.

This 'story' has been covered by Marie Claire, The Mirror, The Scottish Daily Record, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail.. and around the world. EVERYWHERE. I am not including links to the stories. I don't want to encourage even more views on the web pages... If you are interested, just google 'exercise and chocolate' and please leave them a comment as to why they are incorrect... This is standard bad journalism.

I can't seem to find the source of this story, but I will try.


3 comments:

  1. It's much the same as the 'news stories' that pop up occasionally saying that chocolate gives you endorphins, or that red wine is good for you... Various magazines etc interpret this as 'scoffing chocolate and chugging wine is healthy' when the original studies refer to a square of dark (70% or more) chocolate and about half a glass of good-quality red wine

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  2. The fact that this article got such a response is odd, as the real "benefits of chocolate in humans" study appears to be http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/31/13/1616.abstract?ijkey=ac90344dd09e84fe5ca1afeafff3e6d34e490285&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha - one of the references from the Journal of Physiology study, when they mention cocoa.

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  3. There was a similar one about chocolate preventing ageing in humans last year. What a load of tosh!

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