Background: Much lore but few studies describe a relation of chocolate to mood. We examined the cross-sectional relationship of chocolate consumption with depressed mood in adult men and women.
Methods: A sample of 1018 adults (694 men and 324 women) from San Diego, California, without diabetes or known coronary artery disease was studied in a cross-sectional analysis. The 931 subjects who were not using antidepressant medications and provided chocolate consumption information were the focus of the analysis. Mood was assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Cut points signaling a positive depression screen result (CES-D score, >or=16) and probable major depression (CES-D score, >or=22) were used. Chocolate servings per week were provided by 1009 subjects. Chocolate consumption frequency and rate data from the Fred Hutchinson Food Frequency Questionnaire were also available for 839 subjects. Chocolate consumption was compared for those with lower vs higher CES-D scores. In addition, a test of trend was performed.
Results: Those screening positive for possible depression (CES-D score >or=16) had higher chocolate consumption (8.4 servings per month) than those not screening positive (5.4 servings per month) (P = .004); those with still higher CES-D scores (>or=22) had still higher chocolate consumption (11.8 servings per month) (P value for trend, <.01). These associations extended to both men and women. These findings did not appear to be explained by a general increase in fat, carbohydrate, or energy intake.
Conclusion: Higher CES-D depression scores were associated with greater chocolate consumption. Whether there is a causal connection, and if so in which direction, is a matter for future prospective study.