The bad news is that South L.A. has a critical obesity problem.
The good news? Chocolate may be a part of the solution to keeping that at bay.
A new study has found that people who eat chocolate more frequently tend to be slimmer than people who don't.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego evaluated 1,018 women and men between the ages of 20 and 85, asking them how many times a week they ate chocolate and other kinds of food and drink, in addition to calculating their Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a measure of body fat.
According to the Wall Street Journal, they found that eating a small amount of chocolate five days a week was linked to a lower BMI, even if the chocolate-eaters ate more calories as a whole. Which they did – the subjects who ate chocolate more frequently also consumed more calories overall.
The study's head researcher, Beatrice Golomb, is a professor of medicine at USCD and told the Journal that the findings suggest that chocolate's health benefits might be linked to the frequency of the chocolate-eating, not the amount of chocolate consumed in a given week.
The difference in BMI among chocolate-eaters and non-chocolate-eaters is "modest" but notable, said Golomb, because the chocolate-eaters tended to eat more overall.
Golomb and her team's findings only indicate a link between chocolate and BMI, so further studies will be necessary to flesh out the connection. Still, it could be one more health benefit to attribute to chocolate – the BBC says there are studies that claim chocolate is good for the heart, and has been linked to better blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and antioxidant intake.
South Los Angeles has some of the worst obesity rates in the county. A report by the L.A. County Department of Public Health revealed that in Council District 9, which overlaps with much of OnCentral's area of coverage, 36.7 percent of adults and 29.5 percent of children were obese in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Photo by John Loo via Flickr Creative Commons.