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TMCNet:  Farm Beat: Another local product linked with intelligence

[January 21, 2013]

Farm Beat: Another local product linked with intelligence

MODESTO, Jan 19, 2013 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- My kids drink milk and get good grades, but they have yet to win a Nobel Prize.

So I was not sure what to make of a British study suggesting a link between a nation's milk consumption and how many Nobel winners it has produced.

The study was done by Drs. Sarah Linthwaite and Geraint N. Fuller of the Gloucester Royal Hospital, according to the Los Angeles Times. They got the idea after reading about another study that linked chocolate consumption and Nobels.

The results on milk were published in the latest issue of Practical Neurology.

Sweden was No. 1 in milk consumption per capita, at about 350 kilograms -- about 40 gallons -- per year, and first in Nobel prizes, with 31.855 of the medals for every 10 million people.

The United States had a middling grade -- about 22 gallons of milk per year and 10.731 prizes per 10 million residents.

China was at the bottom, with 6 gallons of milk and 0.06 Nobels per 10 million people.

The authors speculated that the Vitamin D in milk might improve cognitive function. They also cautioned that "a correlation does not establish causation." Such caveats are common in medical journals. But I write for a daily newspaper, one that serves a leading dairy region, so let's report the news in simple terms: Milk makes you smart.

Boosting demand can only help our dairy farmers, who have struggled for four years with milk prices that often do not cover their production costs.

A few other thoughts on the British study: --We should not be surprised that people who spend a lot of time around milk are sharp-minded. Witness the brilliance of the first "got milk " commercial in 1993 -- the one in which the guy can't answer "Aaron Burr" in a radio quiz because his mouth is full of peanut butter and he has no milk.

--Some of the Modesto area's other big farm products have been linked to brain function. Research has suggested that red wine might ward off Alzheimer's disease. Walnut growers sell some of the crop to South Korean students who believe consuming the nuts will help with college entrance exams.

--The latest study did not say whether dairy products other than fluid milk will build brain power. But one thing seems clear: Wearing cheese hats has not increased the number of Nobel winners among Green Bay Packers fans.

And it would have taken a sheer genius on the coaching staff to deal last week with Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback from Turlock, in the heart of dairy country. I'm guessing no one can bottle him up.

Have an idea for the Farm Beat Contact John Holland at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

___ (c)2013 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Visit The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) at www.modbee.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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