October 14/Brisbane, Australia/The Courier-Mail -- Cutting out chocolate is more likely to make one put on weight rather than lose it.

A survey by research agency YouGov has found that 86% of slimmers who carried on enjoying their favourite treats successfully lost weight.

Of the 2,100 men and women questioned, those who lost the most weight had -- in 91% of cases -- continued to eat the same amount of chocolate they normally ate before going on a weight-loss plan.

"Extensive research has proven that diets centred around food elimination are much more likely to fail," said Janet Aylott, a nutrition scientist with online calorie-counting plan Nutracheck, who commissioned the YouGov survey.

"The key is to take a more relaxed approach and to have a little of what you like."

The YouGov research corresponds with previous studies which found that dieters who completely eliminate treats such as chocolate, wine and biscuits are often more likely to put on weight as they "compensate" by eating more of other foods.

One study even showed that as many as 65% of those who give up all treats actually end up ballooning in weight.

However, it does not end there: separate research has also suggested that eating chocolate may help one live longer.

A Harvard University team studied 8,000 men for 65 years and found that those who ate modest amounts of chocolate up to three times a month lived almost a year longer than those who ate none.

They concluded that this was likely to be due to the fact that cocoa contains antioxidants called polyphenols, also found in red wine, which prevent the oxidation of harmful cholesterol. These antioxidants are also known to protect against cancer.