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Are Evil Characters Doomed Due To Deficiencies?

Could the battle of good vs evil really come down to the nutritional state of our favourite fantasy characters?

The authors of a quirky study released in the Christmas edition of the Medical Journal of Australia certainly think so!

Nicholas Hopkinson and his son, Joseph report, “Systematic textual analysis of The Hobbit supports our initial hypothesis that the triumph of good over evil may be assisted to some extent by the poor diet and lack of sunlight experienced by the evil characters.”

And it’s true – many of the most infamous evil characters in fantasy literature are associated with darkness and an aversion to sunlight, a major source of vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency can be blamed for a range of health problems including low immunity, recurrent infections, poor musculoskeletal development and weakness. It is also linked to depression and in some cases, schizophrenia.

So have we judged the bad guys too harshly? Would they have been less evil had they tucked into some more egg yolks and oily fish or spent more time tanning?

Or perhaps their combat skills would have improved had they been more nutrient replete, giving them a better chance of becoming victorious.


Unexpected deficiencies in The Hobbit 

In this research piece the Hopkinsons compared the lifestyle and diets of the ‘good’ characters (Hobbits, Dwarves and Wizards) with the evil characters.

They found that the good guys had far more varied diets including cake, tea, ale, porter, wine, jam, cheese, pork pies, chicken, pickles and apple tart.

These characters also spent far more time outside in the sunlight and had higher estimated vitamin D scores than Gollum, Goblins, Trolls and the other non-victorious characters in The Hobbit.


Was Gollum Just In Need Of A Good Multi? 

Assuming that a good nutritional status is correlated with a character’s goodness and victoriousness, we could safely say that the ‘precious’ ring in Lord of the Rings was not the only reason that hobbit-like Smeagol transformed into the slimy creature of darkness known as Gollum.

Since Gollum lived primarily on raw blind fish and dwelled in the darkness of the Misty Mountains, a range of nutritional deficiencies including vitamin D are likely to have contributed to his unpleasant physical and personal characteristics.

The researchers concluded that further work was needed in the area to determine if their results from The Hobbit could be extrapolated to other fantastical situations.

Just imagine a happy and amicable Voldemort after a few sun bed sessions!

Either way, if you start losing hair, developing a hunch back or shying away from sunlight, it’s time to see a nutritionist! 


Further reading: 



Hopkinson, J.A. Hopkinson, N.S. 2013, The hobbit – an unexpected deficiency, Medical Journal of Australia, Vol 199(11)


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