Chocolate lovers, Vox has a hard dose of reality for you. Chocolate isn't good for you. Not even dark chocolate. Not even that bar of vegan avocado dark chocolate, all organic, of course. Chocolate is candy, after all, with fat and sugar. In a lengthy analysis, the news site concludes that the reason so many people think otherwise about the health benefits of chocolate is because of a calculated strategy on the part of the industry to fund studies suggesting that cocoa is all but an elixir. For example, Vox analyzed 100 cocoa studies funded by Mars and found that nearly every one resulted in a glowing conclusion. The story is not suggesting that the scientists involved are corrupt or that the research is entirely bogus, but that small trials and observational studies often get conflated into misleading headlines. It also explores how unintentional bias can seep into results.
"Big Chocolate’s foray into nutrition research is a great case study in how industry can steer the scientific agenda—and some of the best minds in academia—toward studies that will ultimately benefit their bottom line, and not necessarily public health," writes Julia Belluz. The news isn't all bad. The piece ends with one researcher making the case that the relatively small studies to date suggest that larger, high-quality studies into chocolate's possible nutritional benefits would be worthwhile. He adds, however, that "if I have to bet, I believe that these trials will almost always give conclusively negative results regarding major health benefits.” Click for the full story, whose takeaway seems to be that the next time you see a story extolling chocolate is, figure out who paid for the research. (Read more Longform stories.)