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Chocolate, well-being and health among elderly men

Abstract

Objective:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusions:

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

Sponsorship:

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

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to T E Strandberg.

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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.

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Strandberg, T., Strandberg, A., Pitkälä, K. et al. Chocolate, well-being and health among elderly men. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 247–253 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602707

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