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may be vulnerable to cravings as a function of expectancy or learning. However, cravings are not specific to obese consumers, nor has either of these psychological models been supported by empirical research.

Research on consumers who report food cravings has revealed no specific link to obesity (69), dietary restraint (34, 69, 72) or oestradiol levels (34). However, menstrual cycle (73, 74), pregnancy (75), problem eating (64) and negative affect (69) have been linked to cravings. Therefore, although some obese consumers may experience chocolate cravings, this is no more common than cravings reported by their lean counterparts.

The foregoing commentary suggests that the scientific rationale for a link between obesity, taste preferences and consumption of chocolate products is, at best, tenuous. An additional question remains: 'Is there any evidence for a relationship between chocolate consumption and obesity from population studies?'

Relationships between Chocolate Consumption and Obesity between and within Countries

Epidemiological associations between diet and disease have historically (e.g. saturated fat with congenital heart disease (CHD)), and more recently (e.g. antioxidant vitamins with CHD and cancers), provided important indications for causation. Fig. 11.2 reports the currently available information on chocolate

Chocolate Consumption Chart

Ecological associations between chocolate consumption and obesity prevalence. Chocolate confectionery consumption (1991 and 1996) with prevalence of overweight (BMI 2530) and obesity (BMI >30) in 12 countries (mid-1980s data). ® = %

Ecological associations between chocolate consumption and obesity prevalence. Chocolate confectionery consumption (1991 and 1996) with prevalence of overweight (BMI 2530) and obesity (BMI >30) in 12 countries (mid-1980s data). ® = %

overweight; ® = % obese; ^ = chocolate consumption in 1996; ^ = chocolate consumption in 1991.

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