Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Chocolate, well-being and health among elderly men



We hypothesized that chocolate preference would be related to health and psychological well-being in old men.

Design, setting and participants:

We have followed up a socio-economically homogenous group of men, born in 1919–1934, since the 1960s. In 2002–2003, a mailed questionnaire was used to assess the health and well-being (including questions related to positive life orientation, visual analogue scales and the Zung depression score) of survivors. In addition, candy preference was inquired. Those men who reported no candy consumption (n=108) were excluded from the analyses.

Outcome measures:

Psychological well-being in old age.


The response rate was 69% (1367 of 1991). Of the respondents, 860 and 399 preferred chocolate and other type of candy, respectively. The average age in both candy groups was 76 years. Of the respondents, 99% were home-dwelling, 96% were retired and 87% were presently married, without differences between the candy groups. Men preferring chocolate had lower body mass index and waist circumference, and they also reported more exercise and better subjective health (P=0.008) than other candy consumers. Variables related to psychological well-being were consistently better in those preferring chocolate. The differences were statistically significant in feeling of loneliness (P=0.01), feeling of happiness (P=0.01), having plans for the future (P=0.0002) and the Zung depression score (P=0.02).


In this socioeconomically homogenous male cohort, chocolate preference in old age was associated with better health, optimism and better psychological well-being.


The Academy of Finland, the Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, the Helsinki University Central Hospital and the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Aalto A-M, Aro AR, Teperi J (1999). RAND-36 as a Measure of Health-Related Quality of Life. Reliability, Construct validity, and Reference Values in the Finnish General Population. Helsinki: Stakes. Research Reports 101.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ariefdjohan MW, Savaiano DA (2005). Chocolate and cardiovascular health: is it too good to be true? Nutr Rev 63, 427–430.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arts IC, Hollman PC (2005). Polyphenols and disease risk in epidemiologic studies. Am J Clin Nutr 81, 317S–325S.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Brown J, Bowling A, Flynn T (2004). Models of quality of life: a taxonomy, overview and systematic review of the literature. European Population Forum for Ageing Research Bristol, London. Accessed 3 September 2006.

  • Buijsse B, Feskens EJM, Kok FJ, Kromhout D (2006). Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality. Arch Intern Med 166, 411–417.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ding EL, Hutfless SM, Ding X, Girotra S (2006). Chocolate and prevention of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Nutr Metab 3, 2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Engler MB, Engler MM (2006). The emerging role of flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate in cardiovascular health and disease. Nutr Rev 64, 109–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferri C, Grassi D, Grassi G (2006). Cocoa beans, endothelial function and aging: an unexpected friendship? J Hypertens 24, 1471–1474.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Fisher NDL, Hollenberg NK (2006). Aging and vascular responses to flavanol-rich cocoa. J Hypertens 24, 1575–1580.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Franco OH, Bonneux L, de Laet C, Peeters A, Steyerberg EW, Mackenbach JP (2004). The Polymeal: a more natural, safer, and probably tastier (than the Polypill) strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 75%. BMJ 329, 1147–1150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • GO. GO Findings (2005). Growing Older. The ESRC Research Programme on Extending Quality of Life (Webmaster Marg Walker July 2005) Accessed 3 September 2006.

  • Hays RD, Morales LS (2001). The RAND-36 measure of health-related quality of life. Ann Med 33, 350–357.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hertog MG, Feskens EJ, Hollman PC, Katan MB, Kromhout D (1993). Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and risk of coronary heart disease: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Lancet 342, 1007–1011.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Keli SO, Hertog MG, Feskens EJ, Kromhout D (1996). Dietary flavonoids, antioxidant vitamins, and incidence of stroke: the Zutphen Study. Arch Intern Med 156, 637–642.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Marmot M, Shipley M, Brunner E, Hemingway H (2001). Relative contribution of early life and adult socio-economic factors to adult morbidity in the Whitehall II study. J Epidemiol Community Health 55, 301–307.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Martin CT, Kayser-Jones J, Stotts N, Porter C, Froelicher ES (2006). Nutritional risk and low weight in community-living older asults: a review of the literature (1995–2005). J Gerontol 61A, 927–934.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miettinen TA, Huttunen JK, Naukkarinen V, Strandberg T, Mattila S, Kumlin T et al. (1985). Multifactorial primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases in middle-aged men. Risk factor changes, incidence, and mortality. JAMA 254, 2097–2102.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Miller KB, Stuart DA, Smith NL, Lee CY, McHale NL, Flanagan JA et al. (2006). Antioxidant activity and polyphenol and procyanidin contents of selected commercially available cocoa-containing and chocolate products in the United States. J Agric Food Chem 54, 4062–4068.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Mortensen EL, Jensen HH, Sanders SA, Reinisch JM (2001). Better psychological functioning and higher social status may largely explain the apparent health benefits of wine. Arch Intern Med 161, 1844–1848.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Parker G, Parker I, Brotchie H (2006). Mood state effects of chocolate. J Affect Dis 92, 149–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pearson DA, Holt RR, Rein D, Paqlieroni T, Schmitz HH, Keen CL (2005). Flavanols and platelet reactivity. Clin Dev Immunol 12, 1–9.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pitkala KH, Laakkonen ML, Strandberg TE, Tilvis RS (2004). Positive life orientation as a predictor of 10-year outcome in an aged population. J Clin Epidemiol 57, 409–414.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ (2002). Wine, beer, and spirits. Are they really horses of a different color? Circulation 105, 2806–2807.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schroeter H, Heiss C, Balzer J, Kleinbongard P, Keen CL, Hollenberg NK et al. (2006). Epicatechin mediates beneficial effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on vascular function in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci 103, 1024–1029.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Strandberg TE, Strandberg A, Salomaa VV, Pitkala K, Miettinen TA (2003). Impact of midlife weight change on mortality and quality of life in old age. Prospective cohort study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 27, 950–954.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Strandberg TE, Strandberg A, Rantanen K, Salomaa VV, Pitkala K, Miettinen TA (2004). Low cholesterol, mortality and quality of life in old age during a 39-year follow-up. J Am Coll Cardiol 44, 1002–1008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • WHO. WHOQOL-BREF (2003). Introduction. Administration, scoring and generic version of the assessment. Field Trial Version December 1996. In: Rapley M (ed). Quality of Life Research. A Critical Introduction. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA, USA.

  • Zung W (1965). A self-rating depression scale. Arch Gen Psychiatry 12, 63–70.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


Ethical approval: The research project has been approved by the Ethical Committee of the Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki. This work was funded by Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, the Sohlberg Foundation.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to T E Strandberg.

Additional information

Guarantor: TE Strandberg.

Contributors: TES, AYS, KHP and TAM have contributed in the conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data. TES, AYS, KHP, VVS, RST and TAM drafted the article and revised it critically for important intellectual content. TES, AYS, KHP, VVS, RST and TAM approved the final version to be published.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Strandberg, T., Strandberg, A., Pitkälä, K. et al. Chocolate, well-being and health among elderly men. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 247–253 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


This article is cited by


Quick links