‘Slim By Chocolate’. Sounds fantastic. I love a piece of Dairy Milk or Caramello from time to time. And if it is a key part of a flat stomach diet that is going to help me get rid of belly fat – even better.
But how could slimming by chocolate possibly work? My small Dairy Milk chocolate bar contains a whopping 240 calories and 13.5 grams of Fat. Surely that cannot be good for me?
What about Caramello then? This one has 220 calories, 90 of which come from the 10 grams of fat. As an aside 6 grams are saturated fats (the worst kind). There are a bunch of sugars in there too – 25 grams and a low 3 grams of Protein.
Someone has to be pulling my leg here right?
Yes, as it turns out they are. Unfortunately, as so many things sound, eating chocolate to lose belly fat is too good to be true.
Despite being reported in half a dozen languages in 20 countries around the world and even being published by a medical journal – the study purporting that people on a low-carb flat stomach diet lost weight 10% faster if they included a chocolate bar in their daily food intake – was in fact a complete hoax!
What?! I really wish it was true too! Not that I believe in low carb diets anyway – but a ‘chocolate bar a day’ sounded like a nice supplement.
So how did this ‘research study’ get so much exposure and media attention?
Good question. The study was actually a deliberate plot to “reveal the corruption of the diet research-media complex” and expose poor science practices in diet studies.
The research study first appeared in a German tabloid Bild, and then took on a life of its own as it spread throughout the world!
And who was responsible for the media frenzy that ensued? The prank was actually the brainchild of two german filmmakers, Peter Onneken and Diana Lobl, who were working on a documentary film about junk science. They initially approached science journalist John Bohannon and dreamt up a plan to demonstrate how easy it was to make headlines off the back of poor scientific research.
Next step? Make up a group called the Institute of Diet and Health (it was actually just a website) to add some credibility, recruit some subjects, a doctor and an analyst to massage the data. Once this was done Bohannon got to work using his media experience to get the results published and promoted extensively. The rest as they say is history.
Yes, it is alarming how easily the diet and fitness industry can be influenced. But we should have known that already. We see it every day with fad diets that have no scientific basis to them.
But… for a short second there I had hoped that the chocolate bar story had some substance to it…
Oh well, chocolate bars back in the cupboard then i s’pose.