April 29, 2010

Study finds chocolate consumption linked to depression

GETTING depressed can drive a person to chocolate, research suggests.

A US study of 931 men and women found a strong association between chocolate consumption and mood.

Participants with signs of depression ate 8.4 servings of chocolate per month on average, while non-depressed individuals restricted themselves to 5.4 servings.

People with high-depression assessment scores guzzled even more chocolate — as many as 11.8 servings.

A medium serving was defined as one ounce of chocolate, slightly less than a normal-sized bar.

Scientists believe chocolate may have properties that improve mood.

Eating chocolate when depressed may therefore be a form of "self-treatment".

Alternatively, it is just possible the association is the other way round, and eating too much chocolate causes depression.

Research leader Dr Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California at San Diego, said: "Our study confirms suspicions that eating chocolate is something that people do when they are feeling down.

"Because it was a cross sectional study, meaning a slice in time, it did not teE us whether the chocolate decreased or intensified the depression." None of the volunteers taking part in the study were taking antidepressants.

A questionnaire was used to screen for depressive symptoms.