Chocolate Consumption May Make Acne Vulgaris Worse


Am Fam Physician. 2017 Jan 15;95(2):122a-123.

Clinical Question

Does eating chocolate really cause more pimples?

Bottom Line

This study found a statistically significant increase in facial acne lesions among college students 48 hours after ingesting chocolate instead of jelly beans (average compared with baseline: 4.8 new lesions vs. 0.7 fewer lesions, respectively). (Level of Evidence = 1b –)


These investigators enrolled 54 consenting college students with acne vulgaris who agreed to abstain completely from chocolate consumption for the duration of the study. No information is provided on the baseline severity of acne, but each participant provided a prestudy facial photo to allow lesion counting. Study participants randomly received (uncertain allocation concealment) a standard size Hershey's milk chocolate bar or 15 Jelly Belly jelly beans to provide an equal amount of glycemic load to each intervention group. Acne changes were assessed by a second facial photographic review 48 hours later by a dermatologist masked to intervention group assignment. After a four-week washout period, study participants received the opposite intervention from what they had in the first phase of the study (crossover design) and again had a facial photographic assessment performed before and 48 hours after the intervention.

No statistically significant group differences were noted in the number of acne lesions at baseline in both study phases. After each intervention, however, the chocolate consumption group had a statistically significant increase in acne lesions compared with the jelly bean group (+4.8 vs. −0.7 lesions, respectively).

Study design: Crossover trial (randomized)

Funding source: Self-funded or unfunded

Allocation: Uncertain

Setting: Outpatient (any)

Reference: Delost GR, Delost ME, Lloyd J. The impact of chocolate consumption on acne vulgaris in college students: a randomized crossover study. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;75(1):220–221.

POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by EssentialEvidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, please see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.

For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.

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This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, Associate Deputy Editor.

A collection of POEMs published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/poems.



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