If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A chocolate diet is one of those beautiful stories that people who are constantly focused on losing weight embraced passionately, happy that they would finally be able to enjoy the godly taste of one of the most popular foods in the world.
The chocolate diet became popular last spring, when John Bohannon and co-authors published a study in an online magazine that does not peer-review. The study reported that a clinical trial he had ran along with his colleagues proved that chocolate could help people lose weight under certain conditions.
The intention behind the experiment was not to see how effective chocolate really was, but to prove that studies related to nutrition can be based on very thin research and still remain unverified while they are received with open arms by all those who are prepared to believe anything related to dieting.
In recent years, dieting has become a whole industry, very similar to tabloid stories. People are prepared to “devour” anything they find online or in various magazines.
It is no wonder that quite a lot of online newspapers and magazines that are considered very reliable sources took the study for granted and it soon became viral. The story sold well, so journalists kept writing about it.
Bohannon was amazed how few reporters asked questions related to the study, how few people looked him up online or wondered why the institute where the trial was conducted had no previous record.
Bohannon claims that a closer look at his study, that was intentionally flawed, would have easily shed light on all those errors.
However, he also mentioned that the trial was for real – it was carried out with German participants, who were placed in three categories – one had to adopt a low-carb diet with 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate, one group had a low-carb diet, and the other group made no changes in their dietary habits.
Even if a ten percent weight loss was recorded in the group that had a daily intake of chocolate, Bohannon said this was not of great importance because, according to his report, “if you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a “statistically significant” result.”
Bohannon hopes this confessional report will teach both reporters and readers a lesson not to adopt dietary advice from any source without checking first.
He advises people to search for information in order to check if a story is true. They can do research to find out where the study was carried out, how many people were involved in it and if the journal it was published in was reliable enough.
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