By Claire Jones | Image – BlueSkyImage/ |

Does eating chocolate really cause acne?

• Chocolate may increase acne: however, so far the research has been inconclusive
• Evidence is pointing to the possible link between dairy, high-glycemic-load food, and hormonal influences People often warn that the consumption of chocolate causes acne, but are they right?

Acne is the most prevalent skin condition¹, translating into a billion dollar business.² For people suffering from acne, knowing whether to abstain from chocolate is potentially valuable information.
Many sufferers of acne report psychological morbidity caused by social embarrassment, with the condition affecting up to 73% of the population at some point during their lifetime.¹

Acne vulgaris (simple acne) occurs when the hair follicles become blocked by excessive sebaceous serum production leading to skin debris accumulating at the follicle. The follicles then become trapped with pus and swell. The condition can lead to not only embarrassment and social anxiety but also potential scarring.

A number of studies have attempted to answer the question of whether or not chocolate consumption causes, or increases, acne. Many of studies have contained either small sample sizes or have had trouble isolating whether it is the cocoa in chocolate or the dairy, fats, or sugar that actually cause acne.

It might be what is hidden inside the chocolate bar

It is believed that for some people a diet high in dairy, fat, or sugar can trigger hormonal changes leading to an increase in sebaceous serum production which, in turn, leads to acne formation. It has also been hypothesised that people who consume a large amount of the calories as fatty or sugary foods may also have diets lacking in fruit and vegetables that therefore may also be a contributing factor of exacerbating skin conditions such as acne vulgaris.

There is insufficient evidence to prove a correlation between chocolate consumption and acne

However, in 2010, a large review of all the up-to-date literature was conducted looking at whether there was any food, including chocolate, associated with increased acne. It was determined that there was insufficient evidence to prove a correlation between chocolate consumption and acne.³ Despite this, studies continue to be conducted to help solve this question.4

To answer the question: “Does eating chocolate really cause acne?” The jury is still out. Avoiding chocolate, dairy, or a fatty or sugary diet, may help control acne in those prone to the condition, however, there is still a lack of evidence concerning this problem.



1. Collier, C. et al. The prevalence of acne in adults 20 years and older. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2008) 58.
2. Annual sale of the leading acne treatments in the United States in 2014. Available from Accessed 3rd March 2016.
3. Davidovici, B. and Wolf, R. The role of diet in acne: facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology. (2010) 28: 12-16.
4. Caperton, C. et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study assessing the effect of chocolate consumption in subjects with a history of acne vulgaris. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 7(5): 19-23.



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