Confessions of a chocoholic: Survey reveals region's cravings for sweet treats

PUBLISHED: 06:25 02 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:22 02 February 2016

A box of chocolates

A box of chocolates

(c) Martin Poole

A national heart charity is urging people in Hertfordshire to give up chocolate for a month, after revealing the region's obsession with sweet treats.

A survey by the British Heart Foundation has revealed the region's obsession with chocolateA survey by the British Heart Foundation has revealed the region's obsession with chocolate

Chocoholics in the region, your secrets are no longer safe as the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has discovered just how obsessed people are with the sweet stuff ahead of its DECHOX fundraising campaign.

The charity is challenging people to give up chocolate and get sponsored for the month of March.

A BHF poll revealed that nearly two fifths of people in East Anglia – which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Essex, Herts, Norfolk and Suffolk – held their hands up to being a chocoholic (39%), with over half admitting to having scoffed a share bag or large chocolate bar alone, in one sitting (54%).

When the cravings hit, it seems nothing can stand in their way, with nearly a third of people eating chocolate past its sell by date (31%), while a fifth of people even ate chocolate off the floor (22%).

However, these chocolate habits are far from guilt-free with the region’s residents going to extraordinary lengths so they can treat themselves.

Over two fifth said they exercised in order to have a naughty nibble (22%), or said they are good all week so they can justify a weekend splurge (17%).

Do you raid the fridge at night for a chocolate fix?Do you raid the fridge at night for a chocolate fix?

In fact, only nine per cent of people in the region have ever been able to give up chocolate for a month, with some quitters not even lasting a day (3%).

The BHF says it is time for a DECHOX, and is calling on chocolate-lovers to give up their favourite sweet treats for March – including Easter – and get sponsored to raise money for life-saving research.

Last year, more than 19,000 people took part in DECHOX, raising almost £800,000 in the fight against heart disease.

“Chocolate should be an occasional treat rather than an everyday habit.”

Tracy Parker, BHF heart health dietician

The BHF is calling on even more people to sign up this year to help raise £1million.

Tracy Parker, BHF heart health dietician, said: “It’s no secret that we’re a nation of chocolate-lovers and it’s extraordinary how far people are willing to go for a sweet treat.

“Chocolate should be an occasional treat rather than an everyday habit.

Stat attack

The average chocolate eater in the UK consumes almost three chocolate bars a week. That’s more than 150 chocolate bars a year.

Ditching this habit could have real health benefits and see chocolate lovers shed up to 11 pounds (5kg) in a year.

The average calorie content of a 50g bar of chocolate is 250kcal.

In terms of calories saved, dropping a three-bar-a-week habit is the equivalent of removing 39,000 calories from your diet per year.

The weight loss estimated is based on the theory that there are 3,500 calories in 1lb (0.45kg) of body fat.

Therefore, cutting down your calories by about 500 calories each day can result in a 1lb weight loss each week.

So removing 39,000 equates to 11lb.

“Especially as a single chocolate bar averages 250kcals, equivalent to around 10 per cent of a man’s and 12 per cent of a woman’s recommended daily intake, in one sitting.”

She added: “By joining thousands of people and signing up to DECHOX you’ll have a great support network around you to kick that chocolate habit.

“Whilst it’s only a bit of fun to challenge yourself to dump the chunk for one month, it could be a great way to get into better eating habits and the money raised through sponsorship will help fund vital research to help the seven million people living with cardiovascular disease in the UK.”

The message from the BHF is whether you are an undercover chocolate eater, a crafty nibbler or a full-on midnight fridge raider, deep down you know it’s time to dump the chunk and give chocolate a miss for a month.

* To find out more, and to sign up, visit www.bhf.org.uk/dechox or meet fellow Dechoxers using #DECHOX

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