A study released last week reported a significantly reduced risk of stroke in men who ate chocolate in comparison to men who ate little or no chocolate. Naturally, this was big news and was reported on by nearly every news organization. Despite being a lover of chocolate, I was a little skeptical. Plus, I’m not a man so the results may not be relevant to me. I decided to take a look at the actual study.
I’m no statistician, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks a heck of a lot like that recent egg study that was discredited within a day of being published. They used food frequency questionnaires to determine the amount of chocolate eaten over the past year. Food frequency questionnaires are notoriously inaccurate. Think about it, can you remember everything you’ve eaten over the past year? They then followed the men for just over 10 years to see who had a stroke. The men who were least likely to experience a stroke also happened to be the youngest men who had numerous other lifestyle factors in their favour. These factors included being the leanest, being the least likely to smoke, consuming the most fruits and vegetables, etc. With all these other potentially contributing factors I find it difficult to conclude that chocolate consumption was the reason for their lower rates of stroke.
Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but it’s something I consider to be a treat. It’s high in fat and calories and should be consumed in fairly small quantities. While I would love to believe that eating more chocolate will make me healthier, I really don’t think that we can draw the conclusion that everyone should eat more chocolate to reduce their risk of stroke based on this study.