Dark, milk, or white - everyone has their favourite form of chocolate. A new study shows that taking a walk can cut our chocolate consumption in half.
At this time of year, it’s everywhere—sitting on the lunch room table tempting us at work, advertised on TV for gift giving. Dark, milk, white, bars, boxes, decorative tins—chocolate is everywhere! But a new study shows that taking a walk can cut our chocolate consumption in half.
Researchers at the University of Exeter somehow persuaded 78 regular chocolate eaters to abstain from eating chocolate for two days. They were then divided into four groups. Two groups took 15-minute walks on a treadmill before they got down to work. The other two groups had a rest before being assigned their tasks.
In a simulated office environment, the first group of walkers sat down at their desks to perform an easy, low-stress task. The other walkers were given a more demanding task. The resting groups performed identical tasks as the walkers.
Savvy to the ways of a real office environment, the researchers placed a bowl of chocolate bars on each worker’s desk.
Eat more (or less)
The walkers ate half the chocolate that the resting groups ate. Researchers found that the stressfulness of the task made no difference to the amount of chocolate consumed. The walkers ate around 15 grams of chocolate (the equivalent of a “treat size” chocolate bar) while the resting groups ate 28 grams of chocolate.
Lead researcher Professor Adrian Taylor of the University of Exeter said: "We know that snacking on high calorie foods, like chocolate, at work can become a mindless habit and can lead to weight gain over time. We often feel that these snacks give us an energy boost, or help us deal with the stress of our jobs, including boredom. People often find it difficult to cut down on their daily treats but this study shows that by taking a short walk, they are able to regulate their intake by half."
Thinking outside the box
If my coworkers are lucky, I’ll carry out this experiment on them one day. But I would bet that they’d eat more than one or two mini chocolate bars.
While I can’t explain why the walkers ate less chocolate than the rested people, common sense dictates that when people know they’re being observed, they’ll eat a lot less of anything than when they’re alone or think no one’s watching. Were the subjects told they could eat as much as they wanted or was the chocolate simply there?
If you’re watching your calories this holiday season, don’t try this experiment at home—or at the office.