The assumption has always been that women love chocolate more than men - sometimes in both senses of the phrase. But blokes are developing the sweeter tooth, reveals the latest confectionery consumption data.

Although much of the recent NPD and marketing has been aimed at women - including the roll-out of girly chocolate bar Crispello by Cadbury - men are becoming chocoholics, according to Kantar Worldpanel data.

The number of times blokes eat chocolate has risen 10.5% year-on-year compared with a 4.5% hike among women [Kantar Worldpanel 12 m/e May 2012]. And the difference was even more marked in sugar confectionery, with consumption by men up 7.4% against a 1.5% decline among women.

The reason for rising consumption among men could be that they are doing what women are often accused of - comfort eating. “We may be seeing a shift in this trend,” said Dr Siri Harrison of the City Psychology Group practice. “Traditional male jobs are being lost, unemployment rates are soaring and those that remain employed fear redundancy. These issues are placing pressure on men and they may seek comfort through the age-old tradition of self-medicating with sugar.”

This shift toward sugary treats has brought with it a decline in healthier snacking, said Kantar Worldpanel analyst Laura Munden, with overall fruit consumption down 1.7%. “I have noticed less snacking for health reasons and an increase in home snacking,” she added.

In August, The Grocer revealed men were eating more crisps and chocolate snacks away from home. But when it comes to confectionery at-home consumption has overtaken out of home, rising 8.3% compared with 8% for out of home.