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Brits Are in Love with the Cocoa

A recent poll found that nearly half of adults in the UK are actively lying to their significant others about how much chocolate they're eating. Disturbed by those numbers, a health organization wants the UK to give up chocolate for an entire month.
February 10, 2015, 11:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Lee McCoy

Just in time for Valentine's Day, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has gone and laid a big wet fart on chocolate lovers everywhere.

The BHF recently polled 3,000 Brits on their chocolate-eating habits, one quarter of whom said that they believed giving up chocolate would be more difficult than abstaining from alcohol, caffeine, or even sex.

Apparently, this is a bad thing.

According to the BHF, nearly half of the people polled—43 percent!—are actively lying to their significant others about how much chocolate they're eating. A third of them said they eat chocolate in secret on their way home from work; another 13 percent eat it behind the fridge door or wait until their partner leaves the room.

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Hold on. Are these numbers completely fucked, or does Britain have clinical-grade issues with food guilt?

It hardly matters, though, because the BFH is using this report to help launch its DECHOX campaign, which asks Brits to give up chocolate for the entire month of March.

We know what you're thinking. Yes, it does seem a bit odd that the BFH would focus its new campaign on chocolate as opposed to the ostensibly more pernicious prevalence of fast food or, say, soda. After all, Brits consume a staggering 230 liters of soft drinks per person every year.

And why would a cardiovascular health organization put antioxidant-rich chocolate in its crosshairs anyway? A 2009 review of chocolate's supposed benefits by the American Heart Association noted that while commercially available chocolate is chock-full of calories that could cause weight gain and its associated health problems, there is evidence to the contrary. The review highlighted one study that suggested that even the daily consumption of 41 grams of chocolate—just under the size of a standard Hershey's bar—wasn't associated with weight gain. And the AHA concluded that polyphenols present in chocolate were "potentially beneficial" on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and blood lipids.

Of course, the BHF's war on saturated fat doesn't exactly jibe with the idea of chocolate as health food. Nor has it taken kindly to a recent article published in the British Medical Journal's Open Heart journal, which claims that the fear of saturated fat perpetuated in the 1980s was highly overblown, and based on "very limited evidence" from flawed trials. In response, health writers everywhere have been hailing our rightful return to butter.

But the BHF isn't so easily swayed by a silly rag like the BMJ. "[The] British Heart Foundation believes that only looking at these types of trials oversimplifies the difficult and complex task of developing evidence based guidelines on nutrition," the organization noted in a press release, urging people to continue swapping saturated fats for unsaturated ones.

So, there you have it, Britain: Have a guilt-ridden, heart-healthy Valentine's Day without shoving bonbons down your gullet. But who said you have to eat chocolate? You could always get into sploshing instead.