NCBI ROFL: Study proves chocolate bars different from bones.

By ncbi rofl | May 25, 2010 7:00 pm

It’s BMJ week (again) on NCBI ROFL! After the success of our first BMJ week, we decided to devote another week to fun articles from holiday issues of the British Medical Journal.  Enjoy!

Accuracy of comparing bone quality to chocolate bars for patient information purposes: observational study

“Within our area of practice relating to osteoporosis and fragility fracture we have noticed a tendency to compare normal, healthy bone to the finely honeycombed structure of a Crunchie (Cadbury Trebor Bassett; Bournville, Birmingham) chocolate bar and to compare abnormal, osteoporotic bone to the coarser structure of an Aero (Nestle UK; York) bar.  Although this explanation is readily appreciated by patients and clinicians it struck us that the comparison may not be completely valid as no work has been published on the fracture potential of each bar… To enable us to provide accurate data to our patients we studied the fracture risk for each chocolate bar.


We randomly purchased 20 chocolate bars (10 Crunchie and 10 Aero) from a reputable high street confectioner; the number of bars was limited by research funds and our rural environment…

The end point of the study was fracture. Firstly, we allowed each bar to topple from its standing height in the centre of a tile. We then dropped each bar horizontally on to the centre of the tile from increasing heights until fracture, defined as a break in the cortex; we did not regard mild deformity as a fracture. The tests were carried out at a temperature of 22C after the bars had had eight hours to reach a steady state temperature. We used a bone densitometer (Discovery-C; Hologic, Bedford, MA) to carry out dual energy x ray absorptiometry (whole body) on one Aero and one Crunchie, with bone mineral density being used as a surrogate for measuring chocolate density. Height was measured with a tape measure (Olympia (5 m/16 ft) Power Return Tape; Olympia (UK); Reading, Berks)…

Our data provide evidence of the disparity between chocolate density and fracture rates. The use of Crunchie and Aero bars to explain bone health and fracture risk to patients, although palatable, is not justified. In practical terms we believe that the findings should contribute to the provision of improved patient information and education by enlightened healthcare professionals. The study serves to remind clinicians that both chocolate density and bone mineral density form but one component of fracture risk. The accurate assessment of fracture risk should ideally take into account other measurable indices that contribute to fracture risk in addition to that provided by chocolate density and bone mineral density.”

Read the full article here.

Image: BMJ

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  • Cath the Canberra Cook

    220C? Not likely! I think you’ll find it’s 22 degrees C.

  • ncbi rofl

    Thanks for the catch (the degree symbol became a 0 when we copy/pasted) – it’s fixed now.
    The chocolate bars would definitely have melted under those conditions.

  • http://Discover Pat

    May I hazard a guess as to what happened to the chocolate bits at the conclusion of the experiment? Next time, may I participate?

  • geeta

    In fuurther experiments on this study we would be looking at the constitution of the chocolates and the bones…

    If educationg the patients is the intention, I would show them a healthy bone and an osteoporotic bone, rather than 2 pieces of cocolates, unless I am pressed for publicaions for my degree.
    Good thing they didn’t compare a Hershey chocolate – their lawyers are looking for anything to relate to them for suing these days.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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