‘Study' ties eating chocolate to winning Nobels

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE and KARL RITTER Published: October 11, 2012
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Take this with a grain of salt, or perhaps some almonds or hazelnuts: A study ties chocolate consumption to the number of Nobel Prize winners a country has and suggests it's a sign that the sweet treat can boost brain power.

No, this does not appear in the satirical Onion newspaper. It's in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, which published it online Wednesday as a “note” rather than a rigorous, peer-reviewed study.

The author — Dr. Franz Messerli, of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and Columbia University in New York — writes that there is evidence that flavanols in green tea, red wine and chocolate can help “in slowing down or even reversing” age-related mental decline — a contention some medical experts may dispute.

Nevertheless, he examined whether a country's per-capita chocolate consumption was related to the number of Nobels it had won — a possible sign of a nation's “cognitive function.” Using data from some major chocolate producers on sales in 23 countries, he found “a surprisingly powerful correlation.”

Switzerland led in chocolate consumption and Nobels. The United States is in the middle of the pack with the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Belgium and Germany. At the bottom were China, Japan and Brazil. The study only includes Nobels through last year — not the ones being announced this week.

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