It can cut your risk of heart disease (in very small doses), it makes you thinner (but not everyone) and lowers your blood pressure (dark chocolate and only in small amounts).
But what science hasn’t really been able to tell us is why some people find it irresistible and others can just take it or leave it.
Enter Queensland University of Technology Institute of Heath and Biomedical Innovation PhD candidate, Stephanie Fay.
Ms Fay hopes to discover why some of us are a slave to the cocoa bean.
“What we are really doing is trying to uncover individual differences in food preferences that might drive differences in eating behaviour,” Ms Fay said.
“We know there are quite strong differences in the types of food people like and also the different circumstances in which they eat them. This study is really focusing on snacking, in particular sweet snacking, looking at the characteristics of people who tend to indulge in that type of snacking and as well, a large part of the study is also looking at the environmental cues that might provoke certain people to snack more than others.”
Examining the environmental cue responses may explain why some people follow seeing those advertising images of rivers of melted chocolate with reaching for a block of the real thing.
“It really is quite difficult to escape these little memory prompts (advertising, stores, food images) and we are wondering if certain people are more susceptible than others to these prompts,” Ms Fay said.
A savoury study is set to follow and Ms Fay hopes her findings may help provide solutions to tackling Australia’s obesity epidemic.
“Obviously, there are huge rates of overweight [people] and obesity across Australia and worldwide and snacking in particular is thought to play quite a strong role in this increase,” she said.
“So if we can uncover the reasons for people’s behaviours, maybe try to work out exactly what is going on and whether snacking is healthy and if not, what are the sorts of different people who might be more responsive to various interventions.”
Ms Fay is looking for volunteers willing to eat chocolate for science.
Those interested in participating should email email@example.com.
Source: Brisbane Times