Eat more chocolate…'win more Nobel prizes', scientists find

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 4:04am

Of all the chocolate research out there, the most unabashed tribute to the "dark gold" has to be a study just published in one of the world's most prestigious medical journals.

Drum roll, please.

The higher a country's chocolate consumption, the more Nobel laureates it spawns per capita, according to findings released in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Swiss, of course, lead the pack, closely followed by the Swedes and the Danes.

The United States is somewhere in the middle. The nation would have to up its cocoa intake by a whopping 125,000 tonnes a year to produce one more laureate, said Franz Messerli, who did the analysis.

"The amount [of chocolate] it takes, is actually quite stunning, you know," said Messerli, who runs the hypertension programme at St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

"The Swiss eat 120 bars - three-ounce bars (85 grams) - per year, for every man, woman and child. That's the average."

Messerli admitted the whole idea is absurd, but maintained that the data is legitimate and contained a few lessons about the fallibility of science.

It's not the first time scientists have found correlations that seem to defy all logic - and indeed may. The number of storks across Europe has been linked to birth rates, for instance, and sunspots have been tied to suicides in men.

Another possibility is that the link is real, but meaningless.

"National chocolate consumption is correlated with a country's wealth and high-quality research is correlated with a country's wealth," said Eric Cornell, an American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 2001.

"So, therefore, chocolate is going to be correlated with high-quality research, but there is no causal connection there."