Got Nobel? Milk-Guzzling Countries Win More of the Esteemed Prizes

TUESDAY Jan. 15, 2013 -- Nations whose people consume the most milk and dairy products have a lot of Nobel Prize winners, research shows.

For the study, investigators analyzed 2007 data on milk consumption in 22 countries and found that Sweden had the highest consumption of milk/dairy products (750 pounds per person per year) and also had highest rate of Nobel Prize winners at 33 per 10 million people.

Switzerland was also near the top in milk/dairy product consumption (661 pounds per person per year) and had 32 Nobel Prize winners per 10 million people, according to the authors of the letter published in the current issue of the journal Practical Neurology.

China had the lowest milk/dairy product consumption of the countries included in the study (55 pounds per person per year) and the lowest rate of Nobel Prize winners, the authors pointed out in a journal news release.

The data also seemed to suggest that once a nation's milk/dairy product consumption reaches about 772 pounds per person per year, its rate of Nobel Prize winners no longer continues to increase.

But while the investigators found an association between a nation's milk and dairy consumption and its number of Nobel laureates, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Higher levels of milk consumption may be a reflection of a strong educational system in a country, the authors suggested. But they added that milk is rich in vitamin D, which research suggests may boost brain power.

The letter authors decided to examine the link between milk consumption and Nobel Prize winners after research published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine reported a strong association between a nation's chocolate consumption and number of Nobel Prize winners.

The authors of that study suggested that the flavonoid content of chocolate may increase brain power.

"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," concluded Dr. Sarah Linthwaite, of the department of neurology at Gloucester Royal Hospital in the United Kingdom, and colleagues.

More information

The U.S. Agricultural Research Service offers an overview of nutrition and brain function.

Posted: January 2013


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