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Observations Media watch

Behold the Christmas miracle of antioxidants

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 29 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1124
  1. Ben Goldacre, doctor and writer, London
  1. ben{at}

    Apparently chocolate is good for you and red wine is better. But should we believe it?

    I'd like to make a sage prediction, seeing as it's early December. One of the joys of watching bad science coverage in the media—as I have done for four years now—is that you start to spot patterns: and this year, just like every Christmas, as regular as mince pies, I can confidently predict a specific rash of stories: they will explain solicitously that chocolate is good for you—“actually”—and red wine is even better.

    It's not much of a prediction, since in the world of public relations, Christmas has started already. “Choxi+” is milk chocolate with “extra antioxidants,” and the newspapers are fawning over it already: “too good to be true,” says the Daily Mirror; “chocolate that is good for you, as well as seductive,” says the DailyTelegraph. The company is said to “recommend” two pieces of its chocolate a day. “Guilt free,” says the Daily Mail: it's “the chocolate bar that's ‘healthier' than 5lb of apples.” …

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