Countries that consume large quantities of milk and its products also tend to have a lot of Nobel laureates among their populations, according to new research.
A previous study published in the New England Journal of Medicine had reported a strong association between a nation''s chocolate consumption and Nobel laureate prowess, speculating that the flavonoid content of chocolate was behind the boost in brain power.
This got the authors of the new research thinking. As chocolate is often combined with milk, could it be the amount of milk/milk products consumed per head that fuels Nobel Prize success? In a paper published in journal Practical Neurology, they looked at the 2007 data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation on per capita milk consumption in 22 countries as well as the information provided by the author of the chocolate theory, and found a significant association.
Sweden has the most Nobel laureates per 10 million of its population (33). Although, it hosts the Nobel committee, which some might argue could introduce an element of bias; it also consumes the most milk per head of the population, getting through 340 kg every year.
And Switzerland, which knocks back 300 kg of the white stuff every year, has a Nobel haul of similar proportions (32).At the other end of the scale, China has the lowest number of Nobel laureates in its population. But it also has the lowest milk consumption of the countries studied - at around 25 kg a year.
There does seem to be a ceiling effect, however, noted the authors, with no discernible impact beyond an annual per capita consumption of 350 kg, as Finland''s Nobel haul seems to attest.
“Is milk consumption therefore simply a reflection of a strong educational system, or do Nobel Prize winners celebrate by drinking it?” the authors queried.But there is a plausible biological explanation for the link: milk is rich in vitamin D, and this may boost brain power, the evidence suggested.
“So to improve your chances of winning Nobel prizes you should not only eat more chocolate but perhaps drink milk too: or strive for synergy with hot chocolate,” they concluded.