Dr. Franz H. Messerli, a New York cardiologist, suggested chocolate consumption could hypothetically improve cognitive function not only in individuals but in whole populations. He used the total number of Nobel Prizes per capita to reflect the proportion with superior cognitive function.
Messerli analyzed data on the Nobel laureates per capita and compared it with data of annual chocolate consumption obtained from Chocosuisse.
The note -- not a peer-reviewed study -- printed in the New England Journal of Medicine found a close, significant linear correlation between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel Prizes per 10 million people in a total of 23 countries.
When recalculated with the exclusion of Sweden, a country with a very high number of Nobel Prizes, Switzerland was the top performer in terms of both the number of Nobel Prizes and chocolate consumption -- the United States, the Netherlands and Germany were in the middle, and China, Japan and Brazil were at the bottom.
However, the chocolate consumption was based on country averages, and the specific chocolate intake of individual Nobel Prize winners was unknown, the study said.
These findings are hypothesis-generating only and would have to be tested in a prospective, randomized trial, Messerli said.