Chocolate, the Brain and Obesity


Chocolate is the diva of the food world. Nothing is more likely to be labelled a person’s ‘weakness’. Nothing evokes as many mixed emotions and guilty sighs. But is chocolate really so sinful or could chocolate be used to overcome obesity?

Cacao originated in Central and South America more than 4000 years ago and chocolate has been eaten for thousands of years. Yet obesity has only become an epidemic in the last few decades.

Harvard University studies show that Kuna Indians in Panama have among the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world despite poor sanitation and no access to Western medicine. Their low incidence of stroke and heart attack, and exceptionally good blood pressure, has been attributed to drinking four to five cups of locally grown cocoa per person per day. Because they can’t afford milk and sugar, they drink it with boiled mashed bananas.

The country that eats the most chocolate in the world is Switzerland and they are way down the list of most obese countries – they don’t even feature in the top 100. Does eating high quality chocolate reduce sugar consumption in other forms? Could we learn to consume chocolate in a way that influences our eating habits for the better? Can different emotional states while eating chocolate affect body fat deposition?

This presentation is a fascinating exploration of the art and science of chocolate savouring – and how tasting more, leads to eating less. When people stop multi-tasking, learn to engage all their senses, and let go of guilt around chocolate, they change their brain and body chemistry and feel more satisfied by eating less.

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