There are things that public-radio listeners like, and things they do not. They do not like when Kim Kardashian shows up on NPR’s weekly quiz show Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! as an earnest participant rather than an object of mockery. Which she did on Sunday. Deeming her insufficiently highbrow and undeserving of celebrity status, incensed listeners threatened to cancel their memberships. (“I fear I will never be able to listen again.”)
Those listeners do like being told that eating chocolate is healthy, as they were this morning:
Sweet news, or … deadly news? What would you do for 4,494 likes? I know, me too. The actual bottom-line conclusion of the study in question, though: "There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk." Unless it increases the overall number of calories that a person takes in. This research is far from telling people that they should be eating chocolate.
There is no shortage of academic research (or ensuing news coverage) about whether the things people enjoy in excess—chocolate, red wine—are actually beneficial in small amounts. Even when research methods are as good as they can be, the practical takeaways are almost inevitably oversimplified. The current study appears in the journal Heart, and is a meta-analysis of data from 20,951 people. It does well in establishing an interesting correlation between chocolate intake and cardiovascular health. But it relies on surveys, in older adults only, and tries to overcome far more confounding variables than could ever be possible to overcome: What else is going on in the lives of these people? What else are they eating, drinking, doing, feeling, enduring, wearing, etc.? Can we say that chocolate is making people healthy? No.