Nations that consume a lot of milk... also win a lot of Nobel prizes

January 14, 2013, British Medical Journal

Nations that consume a lot of milk and milk products also tend to have a lot of Nobel laureates among their populations, suggest the authors of a letter, published in Practical Neurology.

Research published last year in the reported a strong association between a nation's and prowess, speculating that the flavonoid content of chocolate was behind the boost in brain power.

This got the letter authors 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?

They looked at the 2007 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization on per capita 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 , which some might argue could introduce an element of bias; it also consumes the most milk per head of the population, getting through 340kg every year.

And Switzerland, which knocks back 300kg 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 25kg a year.

There does seem to be a ceiling effect, however, note the authors, with no discernible impact beyond an annual per capita consumption of 350kg, as Finland's Nobel haul seems to attest.

Is milk consumption therefore simply a reflection of a strong educational system, or do celebrate by drinking it, query the authors?

But there is a plausible biological explanation for the link: milk is rich in vitamin D, and this may boost brain power, the evidence suggests.

"So to improve your chances of winning you should not only eat more chocolate but perhaps drink milk too: or strive for synergy with hot chocolate," conclude the authors, who highlight their conflicts of interest, which include a tendency to take milk with cereal and coffee, and to eat chocolate whenever the opportunity arises.

Explore further: Eat more chocolate, win more Nobels?

More information: Milk, chocolate, and Nobel prizes, Pract Neurol 2013;13: 63, doi: 10.1136/practneurol-2012-000471

Related Stories

Eat more chocolate, win more Nobels?

October 10, 2012
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.

Eating chocolate cuts risk of heart disease

August 31, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- The researchers compiled a systematic review of seven studies using data from 114,000 patients and found that people who consumed the most chocolate had a 37 per cent lower risk of developing heart disease ...

Recommended for you

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning

January 16, 2018
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby's brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom's face, or the sound of her voice.

Brain zaps may help curb tics of Tourette syndrome

January 16, 2018
Electric zaps can help rewire the brains of Tourette syndrome patients, effectively reducing their uncontrollable vocal and motor tics, a new study shows.

Researchers identify protein involved in cocaine addiction

January 16, 2018
Mount Sinai researchers have identified a protein produced by the immune system—granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)—that could be responsible for the development of cocaine addiction.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2013
It's all bulls.. From the association of milk consumption to number of Nobels, one can say the committee is biased towards dairy consumers, i.e mostly western culture countries. And the Nobels are given out by an elusive, elite group who never ever have to explain the rationale of their decisions. Tesla who pioneering works ushered in the electric power age that transformed the planet never got one; but Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho got the Peace prize for the political-faces-saving 1973 Paris Peace Accords to enable Americans to get the hell out of a costly losing war. Ditto for Obama after the wrecked Iraq. Bias and politics driven all over the places. Expect another Noble Peace Prize this year or the next for "Afghanization", after the "iraqization" and the precedent "Vietnamization."
vlaaing peerd
5 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2013
except for the Netherlands apparently? We are worlds biggest milk consumers per capita but the number of Nobelprizes we've won are pretty low.

Btw, the same countries that drink a lot of milk are also amongst world's biggest alcohol consumers. I think that says enough about that correlation and cause are 2 very different things.
Budding Geologist
3.5 / 5 (2) Jan 19, 2013
I think it would be pretty clear that milk and chocolate consumption are related to wealth in a country, and therefore linked to education and global influence...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.