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Research Christmas 2013: Research

The survival time of chocolates on hospital wards: covert observational study

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 14 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7198

Re: The survival time of chocolates on hospital wards: covert observational study

Like many mortals, we find that chocolate has a “kyryptonite”[1]-like effect on our determination to lead a Spartan lifestyle. The occasional presence of chocolate gifts in the workplace is an occupational hazard.

As doctors with an interest in public health, we read Gajendragadkar et al’s paper on chocolate survival time in hospital with some interest[2].

We think the authors missed an opportunity to examine the potential link between regular chocolate consumption and weight gain. Although there is one passing reference to the possibility of chocolate-related weight gain in paragraph 9 under “Ethical Issues”, we fear the public health risks of regular chocolate consumption may have been underestimated at best, ignored at worst.

We would hypothesise that those with a higher BMI are prone to consuming more of these chocolates on the ward. There is evidence to support this hypothesis. A recent longitudinal study found that habitual chocolate consumption is linked to weight gain and higher BMI[3].

We feel this is a hypothesis that is ripe for testing. If our hypothesis is correct, NHS Trusts should revisit their health and wellbeing policies and consider rationing ward chocolates in the interest of staff health. This would be a worthy health promotion initiative which we would heartily support.


[1] Wikipedia: Kryptonite.

[2] Gajendragadkar P R et al. The survival time of chocolates on hospital wards: covert observational study. BMJ 2013;347:f7198

[3] Greenberg J A, Buljsse B. Habitual chocolate consumption may increase body weight in a dose-response manner. PLoS One 2013;8(8):e70271

Competing interests: GYS is not keen on either Quality Street or Cadbury’s Roses chocolates. He is partial to Maltesers. RJM is a fan of Quality Street. This letter represents the authors’ personal views, not those of their employer.

01 January 2014
Gee Yen Shin
Dr. Rohini J. Manuel
Barts Health NHS Trust
Department of Infection, 3/F Pathology & Pharmacy Building, 80 Newark Street, The Royal London Hospital, London E1 2ES