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If you’re hoping to help your country win some Nobel prizes, it probably wouldn’t hurt to start handing out chocolate bars.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a significant correlation between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates in 23 countries.
The author, Franz H. Messerli, M.D., decided to study the link based on the idea that dietary flavonoids can improve cognitive function.
Since flavanols, a subclass of flavonoids, are prevalent in cocoa, Messerli thought he would see if there was any connection by comparing chocolate consumption in various countries as an easy measure of a country’s intelligence — Nobel Prizes.
Messerli found that increasing chocolate per capita by .4 kg a year, can increase the number of Nobel Laureates in a given country by a factor of one for every 10 million people.
Switzerland had the highest chocolate consumption and the most Nobles, with Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Norway rounding out the Top 5 Nobel Prize-winning countries. Meanwhile, China had the lowest chocolate consumption and zero Nobel prizes, while Japan, Brazil, Portugal and Greece rounded out the bottom five in both Nobles and chocolate consumption.
However, Sweden, did throw off the data slightly. With a per capita chocolate consumption of 6.4 kg. per year, the coutnry should have about 14 Nobel laureates for every 10 million people, but they actually have 32. Messerli says this could either be because of a possible home field advantage for the Nobles, or because Swedes eat so much chocolate that even a small amount increases their cognition.
Messerli also admits that the correlation does not necessarily prove causation.