Which Came First?

The depression, or the chocolate?

People who eat more chocolate are more likely to be depressed than people who eat less chocolate, a new study has found.

What isn’t clear, though, is whether people who were more likely to be depressed ate more chocolate in the study—or whether chocolate itself is linked to depression.

“It’s possible chocolate has antidepressant effects and that’s why they are eating chocolate,” said Beatrice Golomb, one of the study’s researchers and an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “I think many of us believe chocolate consumption, at least in the short term, makes us feel better.”

Some research has suggested that chocolate, made from the beans of cocoa trees, has health benefits such as lowering blood pressure. But there has been little research involving mood.

Dr. Golomb and her colleagues looked at 931 adults who weren’t taking antidepressants and didn’t have known cardiovascular disease or diabetes. (The same group of patients was being screened as part of separate research involving cholesterol-lowering drugs.) The results appear in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

Participants were asked about how many servings of chocolate they ate per week and then were screened for depression, using a questionnaire about mood, sleep and eating habits that doctors use to determine if a person might be depressed.

A depression-rating scale indicates whether a person should be referred to a psychiatrist for additional evaluation and possible treatment. Patients who score higher than a 16 on the scale are considered possibly depressed; those who score above 22 are considered likely to be depressed. People whose scores are 16 or less aren’t considered depressed.

The study found that “possibly depressed” individuals, who scored above 16, ate 8.4 servings of chocolate per month. People who weren’t depressed, scoring at or below 16, ate 5.4 servings of chocolate per month. Patients with scores higher than 22—or those most likely to be depressed—ate the most chocolate, with 11.8 servings a month.

5 thoughts on “Which Came First?

  1. Are they eating chocolate candy or chocolate? If it’s candy, then the effects might be from the sugar, not the chocolate. Chocolate is a divine substance made from cocoa, cocoa butter and a small amount of sugar and emulsifyers. No dairy, no oils, no crap. I doubt they’re eating chocolate.

  2. Have you noticed that most “chocolate” doesn’t even have real chocolate in it anymore? I remember the law being passed under Bush that made it optional. For that alone, he should live in infamy.

  3. Agreed–even if this was his only crime, Bush should be punished by being made to eat a combination of sugar, vegetable oil and chemicals as his only sustenance.

    It wasn’t a law exactly. It was an FDA regulation that allowed products made with vegetable oil and virtually no cocoa butter to be labeled as chocolate. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/business/worldbusiness/09iht-chocolate.1.7055816.html

    Which means that any study drawing conclusions based on asking people how much chocolate they eat is bunk because folks aren’t eating chocolate anymore in this country unless they make a point of getting the imported stuff with cocoa butter and not vegetable oil in it. If folks did eat the real stuff in moderation, they would find that it’s good for your arteries, makes you feel great, and isn’t even that fattening.

    Yours in chocolate,
    Ally’s gift

  4. I can tell you from observation that when most women check out their groceries and have one or two pieces of chocolate candy, they go straight into the purse instead of the grocery bag, so they won’t get “lost”, i.e. found by the wrong person.

    I learned this when I first started as a clerk when a woman practically jumped across the counter to grab out of my hand a Reese cup I was putting into the bag with her other items.

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