Lockdown intensifies our love affair with chocolate

Research reveals comfort eating and a change in priorities see consumers spend an extra £260m on chocolate during the pandemic.

Did you know that it’s now 50 years since Gene Wilder welcomed us all to the chocolate factory and the sweet tooth of Augusta Gloop led him a little too close to the chocolate river?

While that may be hard to believe, our love affair with chocolate is not. Over the course of a lifetime, the average Brit will consume some 7,560 chocolate bars, 2,268 slices of chocolate cake and 8,316 chocolate biscuits, according to a recent survey of 2,000 adults by the British Heart Foundation

If that feels like a lot of chocolate, it probably is. According to Divine Chocolate, an estimated 660,900 tonnes are put away each year, equating to three bars per week, or 11 kilos per person.

During lockdown that passion intensified, with Kantar confirming shoppers had spent an extra £260m on chocolate as we forget about counting calories and focused on indulging ourselves and self-medicating from within the confines of our own homes.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this led to more than half of us finding it more difficult to manage our weight, as revealed by research from the European Association for the Study of Obesity.

But for the 66% of us consuming chocolate between meals and 22% of all chocolate being consumed between 8pm and midnight, according to the World Atlas of Chocolate, new research from the University of Murcia in Spain offers hope.

Interestingly, their findings reveal that starting the day off with milk chocolate could bring about unexpected benefits including increased fat burn and decreasing levels of blood sugar.

A study of 19 post-menopausal women consuming either 100g of chocolate – in the morning within one hour of waking, or an hour before bed – revealed that although both influenced hunger, appetites and metabolism, neither resulted in weight gain.

Most interestingly, the research centres on the notion that food timing is a relevant factor when it comes to weight control.

‘Eating at the “wrong” time could be a determining factor for the loss of synchrony between the circadian system and different metabolic processes affecting energy and adipose tissue metabolism and the obesity risk,’ as the authors note.

This post is part of our #OrraniFridays series on Facebook.