During the laboratory meeting this week, I showed my friends an article from New England Journal of Medicine (2012;367:1562-4). Flavanols are present in cocoa, green tea, red wine and some fruits, and have been shown to slow down cognitive decline in the elderly. Therefore, Franz Messerli hypothesized that chocolate consumption is proportional to the population density of Nobel laureates in different countries.
The author obtained the list of Nobel laureates from Wikipedia and chocolate consumption from convenient websites. Among 23 countries studied, chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons have significant positive correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001). Switzerland ranks first in chocolate consumption and the density of Nobel laureates, and China unfortunately ranks last in both.
Of course, this type of articles is mainly for fun. Numerous confounders such as economic status of a country and lifestyle of local citizens have not been taken into account. At the population level, Nobel Prize is a rare event and correlates poorly with the average cognitive function. Besides, preventing dementia is not the same as enhancing intelligence.
As I explained the points to my friends, I found my hands reaching for a box of Godiva. “Who ate them all?” The box was empty.
“It must be JY,” others said.
“At least we will know a Nobel laureate in the future,” my mentor concluded.