People battling signs of major depression showed a yearning for chocolate that drove them to eat twice as much of the sweet treat as those not depressed, University of California researchers said Monday.
Adults with symptoms of severe depression gobbled an average of 11.8 one-ounce servings a month, according to the study. That's comparable to about six dozen Hershey's Kisses monthly. Individuals not depressed ate 5.4 one-ounce servings, and those who showed possible signs of the condition nibbled 8.4, the scientists said. Men consumed almost as much chocolate as women, according to data on 931 adults.
While chocolate has a "rich cultural tradition" that links it to mood benefits, few scientific studies address the issue, wrote Beatrice Golomb, an author of Monday's paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study found an increase in chocolate intake tied to depression, without evidence it helped.
"When people feel the mood for a pick-me-up, they do pick up chocolate," said Golomb, an associate professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Diego. "If there is a 'treatment benefit,' it did not suffice to overcome the depressed mood on average."
The study was conducted by giving questionnaires to 931 men and women in San Diego who weren't using antidepressants and who provided information on how much chocolate and other food they ate. Their average age was 57, while 70 percent were male and 59 percent were college graduates.