Men munch chocolates in joy

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Romantic comedy whets men's appetites for confectionary.

Chocolate is the most commonly craved food. Credit: © DigitalVision

Men are more likely to reach for chocolates when they're happy than glum, say German psychologists.

Men want more chocolate - and enjoy it more - after watching upbeat films, Michael Macht of the University of Tübingen, Germany, and his colleagues found1. Tear-jerkers put them off, and clips provoking fear and anger give inconclusive results.

The finding hints that the links between chocolate - the most commonly craved food - and emotion go beyond its alleged antidepressant powers. People eat chocolate because they're happy, as well as to make them happy, say the team.

The differing ways in which people link food and emotion are still poorly understood, comments psychologist David Benton of the University of Wales, Swansea, UK. "Much research has treated people as a homogeneous group," he says. "We need to be looking at the subgroups."

Previous studies suggest that some people eat more chocolate when they feel low. This research has tended to focus on women, particularly careful eaters who may associate food with guilt.

Macht and his colleagues studied 48 healthy men of normal weight, showing them film clips intended to induce joy (from When Harry Met Sally), sadness (The Champ), anger (Cry Freedom) or fear (Silence of the Lambs). Then they gave them a piece of chocolate, and asked them how much they enjoyed it, and whether they wanted more.

People might divide into those who eat chocolate to avoid misery and those who eat it to get pleasure, says Benton. The men in Macht's study are probably pleasure-seekers, he suggests.

References

  1. 1

    Macht, M., Roth, S. & Ellgring, H. Chocolate eating in healthy men during experimentally induced sadness and joy. Appetite, 39, 147 - 158, (2002).

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Whitfield, J. Men munch chocolates in joy. Nature (2002) doi:10.1038/news020923-5

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