Chocolate and the Nobel Prize


TheNew England Journal of Medicine recently published a brief but interesting study in their OCCASIONAL NOTES section called Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates. Franz H. Messerli, M.D. studied whether there was a relantionship between the number of Nobel prizes a country has won and the consumption of chocolate! The study revealed “a close, significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries.”

Nobel Prize winner Eric Cornell, when interviewed about the study by Fox News, commented, apparently with tongue-in-cheek:

"I attribute essentially all my success to the very large amount of chocolate that I consume," said Eric Cornell, an American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in 2001.

"Personally I feel that milk chocolate makes you stupid. Now dark chocolate is the way to go. It's one thing if you want like a medicine or chemistry Nobel Prize, OK, but if you want a physics Nobel Prize it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate."

On a more serious note, Dr. Messerli concludes:

The principal finding of this study is a surprisingly powerful correlation between chocolate intake per capita and the number of Nobel laureates in various countries. Of course, a correlation between X and Y does not prove causation but indicates that either X influences Y, Y influences X, or X and Y are influenced by a common underlying mechanism. However, since chocolate consumption has been documented to improve cognitive function, it seems most likely that in a dose-dependent way, chocolate intake provides the abundant fertile ground needed for the sprouting of Nobel laureates. Obviously, these findings are hypothesis-generating only and will have to be tested in a prospective, randomized trial.