Chocolate and Brain Power: Scientific Proof Just in Time for the Holidays

Here it is, statistical proof that eating lots of chocolate improves your odds to get a Nobel prize (well, maybe). This chart says it all:


The vertical axis shows the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million population in an assortment of countries, and the horizontal axis shows chocolate consumption per year per person in the same countries.

You can draw a line from lower left to upper right: from low chocolate consumption (and low number of Nobel winners) in the lower left countries to high chocolate consumption and lots of Nobels in the upper right. Switzerland, of course, is tops.

Statistics buffs will admire the tight correlation between chocolate and Nobels: “P< 0.0001" means the probability that this is a random outcome is less than one in ten thousand.

This pathbreaking research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Franz Messerli, M.D., from Columbia University, New York.

It’s conceivable, of course, that the causation works in the opposite direction, and people with high brain power eat lots of chocolate, and when they win Nobel prizes, their countries break out in spontaneous orgies of chocolate consumption in celebration. But this, Dr. Messerli dryly observed, “seems unlikely,” and in any event, would cause only a transient rise in chocolate consumption.

Sharp-eyed readers will see that Sweden is an outlier: with chocolate consumption only a little higher than the U.S., but far more Nobels per capita, almost as many as Switzerland. Are the Swedes genetically sensitive to chocolate, so that they can produce the same brain wattage as the Swiss with far less chocolate intake? Or is this the well-known “Stockholm effect,” where Swedish scientists gain more Nobels because of their proximity to the city where the awards are handed out? More research is needed to sort this out.

We present this as a public service to all our blog readers as we embark on the next week of consumption of holiday treats. You may feel fatter afterwards, but smarter too.

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