Chocolate makes you thin, or, How to critically evaluate research studies

Has anyone not had one of their Facebook friends post a link to a story about the UC San Diego study that concluded that eating chocolate makes you thin? I just did a Google News search using the phrase eating chocolate makes you thin and came up with a ton of results – many of which are misleading news items about a study with perhaps dubious conclusions.

Here’s the study, recently published in Archives of Internal Medicine, an AMA journal. And here’s an evaluation of the study which points out several methodological flaws in the study design, including:

  1. The purpose of the original study was to look at the non-cardiac impact of statin drugs, not diet, weight, etc.
  2. The authors looked at only chocolate, fruit and vegetable, and saturated fat consumption. They did not ask study participants about any other foods they did or didn’t eat.
  3. The authors posit assumptions as facts, with no reference to pre-existing literature.

But – read it yourself: what do you think?