A slang term applied to a person who frequently consumes large amounts of chocolate and has an insatiable craving for chocolate products. In 1991, each Briton consumed an average of 7.3 kilograms (16 lb) of chocolate.
Chocolate contains high levels of magnesium and there might be a link between chocolate cravings and the body's need for this element. Some scientists believe that the cravings are linked to two other chemicals found in chocolate: phenylethylamine (PEA) and theobromine. PEA produces feelings of euphoria described as being similar in kind, if not intensity, to a sexual climax. Levels of PEA in the brain increase when people fall in love, and decrease when they fall out of love. Theobromine is related to caffeine and has similar stimulatory effects.
Recent studies question this link between cravings for chocolate and chemicals. When self-confessed chocoholics were given capsules of cocoa powder, chocolate with the flavour removed, or unadulterated chocolate, only those eating real chocolate satisfied their cravings although all consumed EPA and theobromine. These chemicals may have stimulatory effects, but it appears that chocoholics crave chocolate primarily because they like the taste.
Some psychologists and nutritionists believe that overindulgence in chocolate is due to emotional and social conditioning in early life when chocolate is often given as a sign of social approval. It is suggested that we get addicted to chocolate because it makes us feel better and because it provides a satisfying amount of calories. See also carbohydrate addict's diet.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.