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Want to Eat Chocolate Every Day For a Year? 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the dental-nightmare dept.
Scientists from the University of East Anglia are studying the potential health benefits of dark chocolate, and need 40 female volunteers who would like to eat chocolate every day for a year. The chocolate loving 40 must be post-menopausal and have type 2 diabetes so it can be determined if the flavonoid compounds in chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease. Dr Peter Curtis, of the UEA's School of Medicine, said, "Our first volunteers are about to return for their final visit to see if the markers of heart health - such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels — have changed. A successful outcome could be the first step in developing new ways to improve the lives of people at increased risk of heart disease."

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Want to Eat Chocolate Every Day For a Year?

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  • by BigHungryJoe (737554) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:10PM (#28796387) Homepage

    I'm sure the post-menopausal, type-2 diabetic woman that regularly reads slashdot appreciates knowing about this study.

  • ... on slashdot than post-menopausal women, I don't know what it would be.

  • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:11PM (#28796393)

    I bet Chastity Bono is kicking himself right now.

  • I've often wondered there... are you supposed to pretty much maintain your current lifestyle? What ifyou start working out like a fiend? What if you give up and binge on dounuts? I know the number of participants is supposed to smooth out that... but really, over a year isn't it likely that most participants have made at least one major change in their life?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      hahahaha, a woman making a major change in her life? come now, that's just absurd.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Given that Chocolate is an Aphrodisiac, I hope that change would be for the better.

      uhhh*WINK* ;)

      • Given that Chocolate is an Aphrodisiac, I hope that change would be for the better.

        uhhh*WINK* ;)

        Hey, if you play your cards right and get to know the women in this study, you could wind up simply rolling in post-menopausal tail...

    • Re:Exercise? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:21PM (#28796559)
      I think the only way they could really make this work would be to have a much larger sample group balanced out with a control group of equal size willing to swear off chocolate for the duration of the experiment. There will definitely be huge changes in each woman's health over the year, and I don't think that 40 is a large enough sample to clear out the statistical noise, especially without a control group. So pretty much, this whole thing is just an extraordinary waste of time.
      • by Hatta (162192) *

        You don't get approval to do research on humans (even completely benign research) without a well designed experimental plan. If this research is IRB approved (since we're hearing about it, it probably already is), I guarantee you they have a control group, and have done the math to determine the minimum sample size needed to detect the predicted effect.

        Unless you have read their research plan and can point out specific flaws in it, you're just talking out of your ass. Let me ask you, how big would you mak

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Macgrrl (762836)

        Who cares if it's a waste of time - they want you to eat chocolate. :)

    • First, a control group could take care of this relatively easily. Statistically, the people in the control group are just as likely to make those changes as the people actually eating the chocolate; though in this case a good, double blind study is impossible (it might be that eating a chocolate bar every day encourages the women to do other, seemingly unhealthy, things).

      The other option is to use statistics to control for external variables. Assuming you know about the changes in behavior, you can contro

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:17PM (#28796491)

    Just FYI: Flavonoids are polycyclic aromatic molecules, capable of absorbing free radicals through their conjugated bonds (i.e. moving the unpaired electron around so that a built-up of charge is not created (which drastically lowers its reactivity (and therefore stops a free radical's harmful effects (like the hydroxyl radical, which is used by fungi to invade the cell walls of wood (which is why flavonoids are being explored as wood preservatives, and why the Osage Orange tree is naturally resistant to fungi (since it has a natural abundance of flavonoids)))))). Flavonoids are good at absorbing the harmful affects of free radicals (unpaired electrons) in the body, and this can be a very good thing :)

  • by eln (21727) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:20PM (#28796529) Homepage
    Seriously guys, this is why scientists can't get dates. You have a requirement for female volunteers to come to your lab and eat chocolate...this may be the experiment that actually gets you a woman for once. Then, you screw it all up by requiring that the women be post-menopausal with type 2 diabetes, guaranteeing you're going to get a bunch of fat old chicks. Seriously guys, if you really want to have fun with this study, you need to require that the women be 18-25, physically fit, and sexually attracted to glasses and pocket protectors. You know, for science. Surely you could come up with some sort of sciency rationalizations to justify those requirements.
    • Surely you could come up with some sort of sciency rationalizations to justify those requirements.

      Which is more productive at arousing men and women:
      Whipped Cream
      or
      Chocolate Sauce?

      FOR SCIENCE!

    • All the sudden "no chubbies!" is thundering in my head.
      Thank you [foxnews.com] fox news, Thank you so much.
      Between this an repeatedly blowing up a yellow vans, you are sure full of laughs.
    • Those are obviously the required 'control' subjects for such an experiment. Hooray for control subjects.

    • The entire lab has a GILF fetish. It's a requirement to join the lab that you like em wrinkly and flabby. It's not even a nutrition lab, they're a physics lab. They know what they're doing.

  • Just like drinking cofee and cigartte smoking, a steady portion of sugra will have just the same effects as smoking everyday for a year... will the study support the resulting eating disorders or rehabilitation at the end of the study?
    • by retchdog (1319261)

      Most likely the custom-made bars are artificially sweetened. Also, sugar isn't as bad as smoking.

      • According to TFA,

        A Belgian chocolatier has been used to create bars rich in flavonoids, and the test bars used in the clinical trials are said to have a "bitter" taste.

        (I know, I know... we don't RTFA here...)

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          There are plenty of bitter things with a lot of sugar/sweeteners in them (e.g. most tonic water with quinine). In fact, many artificial sweeteners are noticably bitter if undiluted.

          In brief: go fuck yourself, asshole.

          • We already know how you make chocolate not bitter: you add sugar or artificial sweeteners. The bars are bitter, so they obviously didn't sweeten them very much. What's your point?

            If you're offended at my comment about not R'ingTFA, well, that was supposed to be a joke. Geez.

      • by Mishotaki (957104)

        Most likely the custom-made bars are artificially sweetened. Also, sugar isn't as bad as smoking.

        How about you try to stop all sources of sugar(all forms of sugar, including it's replacements) for a month, i'm pretty sure you'll be like someone who's trying to quit smoking...

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          Your claim, even if true, has nothing to do with how bad sugar is for you. Only how enjoyable it is...

  • And how much chocolate are they feeding these people? Just a few grams a day or ???

    Regardless of whether the dark chocolate may have beneficial compounds, the other components (lots of fat and sugar) are in general rather unhealthy, and EXTREMELY so for a type 2 diabetic.

    Is the control group going to be fed a combination of fats/sugar? The control group will have to volunteer to engage in a fundamentally unhealthy and risky practice for a year.

    Or are they going to be attempting to create some sort of "cho

    • the other components (lots of fat and sugar) are in general rather unhealthy

      If you avoid fats and sugars, you must have some weird-ass diet.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Processed sugar (cane sugar, typically almost entirely sucrose) is fundamentally less healthy than fruit sugar (fructose) because it is absorbed in the bloodstream far more quickly than fructose.

        It is entirely possible to avoid sucrose in one's diet - don't eat candy, or eat candy that has been sweetened with artificial sweeteners (worst case, sugar alcohols have very slow absorption rates).

        Now if they're using unsweetened chocolate they still need to deal with the fact that the fat content of chocolate is

    • Most studies on cocoa flavanoids have been done using 1 oz pieces of very dark chocolate, which are (relatively) low in calories due to the lack of adulterating sugar and cocoa butter. I assume they will be following a similar protocol to enable easy comparison of the results.

    • It depends on the % listed on the label. Your regulations may vary but I've seen mass produced "dark chocolate" sold with as little as 45% cocoa. So, of course, they fill it up with sugar and fat. It's still darker than standard milk chocolate but hardly the good stuff.

      I'd say these trials would be done with chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa, which is around the limit you can get for supermarket brands, although Lindt does make an 85% version.

      As they say, everything in moderation. My late father was typ

  • that rarely ever eats chocolate? Just curious, cause when I say that to people in "the real world*", they look at me like I just whipped it out and pissed on their shoes.**

    *yes, you all don't exist.

    **I guess it could be that I actually AM whipping it out and pissing on their shoes as I say I don't eat chocolate.

    • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

      I used to eat the Hell out of chocolate, trying every new candy bar I saw, getting it as a present a lot, it just being plain available. In the last few years I'm not so interested, kind of worn out on it. I like a good piece of really, strikingly, of my god my glands are swelling dark chocolate, but I don't gobble it up the way I used to.

  • by RobVB (1566105)
    Yes, I do.
    • by RobVB (1566105)
      Oh, had to read the article to know it's about a study and stuff. Next time, ask the question at the end instead of in the title.
  • Really dark chocolate seems to have some interesting health effects. Really dark chocolates have more cocoa and much less sugar (example, my wife is Type 2 Diabetic, if she really wants chocolate, she gets at 70%+ cocoa chocolate bar) then your milk chocolate bars. Eating one like that every day as probably the same sugar risk as eating a couple pieces of toast.

    If it is lower on the cocoa content, then yeah, I think that would be somewhat dangerous IMNSHO.
  • Purely anecdotal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joeasian (1056578) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:44PM (#28796893)
    Jeanne Calment, the oldest person who had ever lived, ate a kilo of chocolate every week [wikipedia.org].

    More interesting is that she smoked until the age of 117. As with Henry Allingham, who credited cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women - and a good sense of humour [wikipedia.org] for his longevity.

    I'll be picking up some Lucky Strike and prostitute this evening and do my own study.
  • This is probably just an attempt to boost the market for dark chocolate. Some people who just read about this study before it's even conducted may be lead to assume that dark chocolate is a healthy alternative to a well-balanced diet and maybe exercise, or believe chocolate is somehow good for diabetes, or any number of other negative effects.

    Worse, due to the desire to have a healthier lifestyle and the target audience being social, this false belief may get disseminated further.

    I do hope that for the sake

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:49PM (#28796985)
    Finding 40 women willing to eat chocolate daily: easy.

    Finding 40 women that will agree to NOT eat ANY chocolate for a year, as a control: yeah, good luck with that.
    • The other BIG problem I see here will be to find 40 women in this study who will accept being weighted because, I guess, weight control will be part of this study (didn't RTFA).
  • by JJJK (1029630) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:50PM (#28796991) Homepage
    And here's your webcomic reference: PhD Comics [phdcomics.com]
  • It's unfortunate that the average person will not realize the difference between the real unprocessed/unsweetened dark chocolate being used for the study and the "dark chocolate" processed candy products you find at convenience stores.

    Real dark chocolate tastes like ass, so basically all mass market dark chocolate products will add sugar and milk fat to enhance the flavor which will surely negate any sort of heart-friendly health benefits that this study is meant to find. Seems to me like it's going to y
  • For chocolate lovers who don't fit the demographics, peruse this list of ongoing clinical trials, you might get lucky:

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=chocolate [clinicaltrials.gov]

    I think the article descirbes this one, FLAVO, which compares flavonoid-enhanced chocolate with unenhanced:

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00677599?term=chocolate&rank=18 [clinicaltrials.gov]

    For study subjects: "Flavonoid compounds from cocoa (including epicatechin) and soy to be consumed for 365days in the experimental intervention (versus placebo co

  • It wouldn't be hard to make this double blind, you'd grind up chocolate and put it in capsules, and then grind up something inert, dye it brown, and put that in capsules. Don't tell the dispenser or the taker which group they're in. Of course the takers could open the capsules and try to guess which group they were in, but yeah, it's not impossible to do a good job double-blinding this, it's just not as interesting for the taker if they don't get to enjoy the chocolate.

  • by Kainaw (676073) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @03:02PM (#28798561) Homepage Journal

    The study actually uses extremely bitter cocoa powder, not sweet and tasty chocolate. The study is on the antioxidants in the cocoa powder. When sweetened, the antioxidants are destroyed. So, you have to choke down a nasty bitter powder every morning. Not something most people are willing to do.

    • Um, no, it didn't. It used chocolate bars... granted they were bitter chocolate, but bars of chocolate nonetheless.

      A Belgian chocolatier has been used to create bars rich in flavonoids, and the test bars used in the clinical trials are said to have a "bitter" taste.

      • by Kainaw (676073)

        To be accurate, that should read "A previous study that this study is extended from used a Belgian chocolatier to create bars..." This particular study is using cocoa powder mixed in water.

        • Source please. The very first sentence in TFA reads:

          Researchers studying the potential health benefits of dark chocolate at UEA in Norwich, Norfolk, need 40 women to test specially made bars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evalhalla (581819) *
      Enough people are willing to eat a block of what is basically the same bitter powder with a bit of cocoa butter to keep it together that they sell it in most supermarkets, at least in Italy and Switzerland. Google for Lindt 99%.
      • I'd try it.

        I can't remember what I tried, 90 or 95%, but I know it was tasty. 99% would probably be a bit strong, but I suspect I'd still like it...

        Hell, I tried a chunk of baking chocolate... although that one was too freezer-burnt to be any good. Too bad...

  • 40 people !
    you can't get statistics on anything from 40 people
    either the summary is wrong, or the science is worthless

    In particular, you could not possibly get anything about heart disease from 40 people unless you started with a population that had, say, a 50% risk of something over the 1 year of the study
    math: say 50% risk of a cardiovascular event that requires hospitilization. That means, with the usual variability, that you would expect anywhere from say 20 -30 people to have an event.
    how much effect w

    • by shermo (1284310)

      That's why they're not using the incidence of heart disease as the determinant. They're using indicators such as blood pressure and cholesterol. Still a small sample sure but not worthless.

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