The hobbit — an unexpected deficiency

Joseph A Hopkinson and Nicholas S Hopkinson
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (11): 805-806. || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10218


Objective: Vitamin D has been proposed to have beneficial effects in a wide range of contexts. We investigate the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency, caused by both aversion to sunlight and unwholesome diet, could also be a significant contributor to the triumph of good over evil in fantasy literature.

Design: Data on the dietary habits, moral attributes and martial prowess of various inhabitants of Middle Earth were systematically extracted from J R R Tolkien’s novel The hobbit.

Main outcome measures: Goodness and victoriousness of characters were scored with binary scales, and dietary intake and habitual sun exposure were used to calculate a vitamin D score (range, 0–4).

Results: The vitamin D score was significantly higher among the good and victorious characters (mean, 3.4; SD, 0.5) than the evil and defeated ones (mean, 0.2; SD, 0.4; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Further work is needed to see if these pilot results can be extrapolated to other fantastic situations and whether randomised intervention trials need to be imagined.

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  • Joseph A Hopkinson1
  • Nicholas S Hopkinson2

  • National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Unit, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London, London, UK.



No specific funding was available for this work. Nicholas Hopkinson is supported by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Unit at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London but would like to make it clear that he did this in his own time.

Competing interests:

We declare that we have no conflicts of interest relating to this work, though Nicholas Hopkinson quite liked Game of thrones on the telly and Joseph Hopkinson has read all of the books.

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