Food cravings have been known to be throwing people off track when they are trying to lose weight or recover from an eating disorder. Statistics show that up to 97% of women and 68% of men experience cravings for dense, calorie-packed foods that often appear before engaging in unhealthy eating.

Chocolate is the most common and "intensely" craved food with addictive characteristics.

Researchers from the University of Exeter wanted to look at what goes into an intense craving and how one might break it. They found that a brisk walk could cut down the urge to eat chocolate curb cravings that way.

The researchers gathered 25 people whom they described as "regular chocolate eaters". The study participants were first deprived of their favorite sweet for three days and told not to exercise or have caffeine for two hours before the test period. Abstaining from chocolate, being under stress, and then exposing someone to chocolate has been shown to ignite chocolate cravings.

The participants had their blood pressure and heart rate monitored and were also asked to complete a food-craving questionnaire.

The first group of participants took a brisk 15-minute walk on a treadmill. They were supposed to walk as if they were catching a bus. The comparison group sat quietly for 15 minutes. After these 15 minutes, they were given an unwrapped chocolate bar they were not allowed to eat and a computerized test (the stressor). Researchers found that the group that exercised had a significant reduction in chocolate cravings when compared to their baseline.

Taking a brisk walk also helped to lower blood pressure readings after the mental-challenge test and handling the unwrapped chocolate bar while being sedentary did not appear to lessen cravings at all.

The researchers hope their findings will help shed light on how to interrupt cravings as even tiny changes in the meal portions and small increases in exercise can be helpful in keeping weight off and creating good eating habits.