• Question: Why is chocolate so addictive (often even more than other sweets)?

    Asked by 11mccoa1 to Josh, Stuart on 28 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Stuart Archer

      Stuart Archer answered on 28 Jun 2013:

      Ah, chocolate addiction, something we’ve all suffered from! 🙂

      Chocolate has a lot of fat and sugar in it, both of which (as you probably know) contain a lot of calories. Scientists reckon that we’ve evolved to like the taste of sugary or fatty things because we didn’t have the ‘three square meals a day’ routine in the past – we’d eat whenever we found or hunted food, and the ‘craving’ you get when eating a fatty or sugary food is a result of that i.e. the body is programmed to eat as much of these foods as possible because it doesn’t know when it’s next meal is coming!

      When you eat chocolate or other fatty, sugary foods (such as flapjacks, another personal favourite…) it releases chemicals in your brain known as ‘endorphines’. These are ‘feel-good’ chemicals, the same thing that’s released when you laugh, which is why laughing also feels good! The actual biological reasons why you become addicted to this feeling is quite complicated (it’s not my area of expertise, so I only understand the basics) but essentially, your body ‘becomes used’ to the good feeling associated with the release of endorphines when you eat chocolate, and craves more of it to continue that good feeling. It’s a similar, but less extreme, version of what happens when people take heroin or other similar illegal drugs!