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Eating Candy As Kid Linked To Adult Crime

From the former news magazine, Time:

Eating Candy in Childhood Linked to Adult Crime

By Alice Park

What parent hasn’t used candy to pacify a cranky child or head off a brewing tantrum? When reasoning, threats and time-outs fail, a sugary treat often does the trick. But while that chocolate-covered balm may be highly effective in the short term, say British scientists, it may be setting youngsters up for problem behavior later. According to a new study, kids who eat too many treats at a young age risk becoming violent in adulthood.

The research was led by Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in Violence and Society Research at Cardiff University in the U.K., who specializes in the study of vulnerable youngsters. Moore had been investigating the factors that lead children to commit serious crimes, when, during the course of his work, he discovered that "kids with the worst problems tend to be impulsive risk takers, and that these kids had terrible diets – breakfast was a Coke and a bag of chips," he says.

Intrigued by this association, Moore turned to the British Cohort Study, a long-term survey of 17,000 people born during a one-week period in April 1970. That study included periodic evaluations of many different aspects of the growing children’s lives, such as what they ate, certain health measures and socioeconomic status. Moore plumbed the data for information on kids’ diet and their later behavior: at age 10, the children were asked how much candy they consumed, and at age 34, they were questioned about whether they had been convicted of a crime. Moore’s analysis suggests a correlation: 69% of people who had been convicted of a violent act by age 34 reported eating candy almost every day as youngsters; 42% of people who had not been arrested for violent behavior reported the same. "Initially we thought this [effect] was probably due to something else," says Moore. "So we tried to control for parental permissiveness, economic status, whether the kids were urban or rural. But the result remained. We couldn’t get rid of it."

In other words, regardless of other environmental and lifestyle factors, like family-income level, parenting style or children’s level of education, the data suggested it was only the frequency of confectionery consumption in childhood that strongly predicted adult violence. "The key message is that this study really raises more questions than answers," says Moore.

One of those questions is whether sweets themselves contain compounds that promote antisocial and aggressive behavior, or whether the excessive eating of sweets represents a lack of discipline in childhood that translates to poor impulse control in adulthood. Moore is leaning toward the latter. It’s possible that children who are given sweets too frequently never learn how to delay gratification – that is, they never develop enough patience to wait for things they want, leading to impulsivity in adulthood. It’s also possible that children who are poorly behaved from the start tend to get more candy. (Read "Why Media Could Be Bad for Your Child’s Health.")

Moore acknowledges that there is also some intriguing data suggesting that diet itself may have a profound effect on behavior. A University of Oxford researcher recently published controversial findings hinting that prisoners who were fed vitamin supplements – and therefore presumably getting well-balanced nutrition – had lower rates of disciplinary events and aggressive outbursts than a control group who were given placebo pills. While the association is preliminary, says Moore, "I think looking at diet is a fairly novel way to think of behavior over the life course."

Luckily, once we have nationalized healthcare candy will be not only be taxed, but also outlawed.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, October 2nd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

20 Responses to “Eating Candy As Kid Linked To Adult Crime”

  1. P. Aaron says:

    What kinda candy-assed study is this? A bunch of idiot broccoli munchers.

    • caligirl9 says:

      It’s junk science and proves nothing. I seriously doubt the reliability of the study participants. They asked the participants at the age of 10 how much candy they’d eaten each day. Probably would have been advisable to ask the parents, too.
      No control group, plenty of study flaws. But the researchers are counting that most readers won’t ask those questions.

      For the record, I got candy maybe 3 or 4 times a week, and it was a treat, and I had to pay for it out of lunch money. So the study is correct, I’m not a violent criminal LOL

  2. Confucius says:

    Who knew politicians had a sweet tooth?

  3. Petronius says:

    “whether sweets themselves contain compounds that promote antisocial and aggressive behavior, or whether the excessive eating of sweets represents a lack of discipline in childhood that translates to poor impulse control in adulthood. Moore is leaning toward the latter.”

    This has interesting implications for the whole nature vs. nurture argument.

  4. Reality Bytes says:

    Somebody get Rangel’s dentist on the phone!

  5. GL0120 says:

    Wait, it get’s better – a new study will announce that having children is hereditary; if your parent’s didn’t have any, you won’t either!

  6. Liberals Demise says:

    Every picture tells a story and as luck would have it, Chucky Rangel is our poster boy for “Candy = Crime” statistics.

    Thanks Steve ……. I got it!!

  7. Chuckk says:

    Most violent criminals drank milk as children.

  8. canary says:

    Explains Obama’s”carefully chose” n friends and mentors at college, much the same as his high school criminal imprisoned junkie friends, (along with the agressive delinquent mentors as in former imprisoned MalcomX, and prior to leaving his violent but “joyous” life learning “power” in Indonesia, spilling into 4th grade violently shoving that poor little girl to the ground.

    69+41 does not = 100. And all reported eating candy everyday.

    • canary says:

      then choosing aggressive former gangbangers and preachers, til present day hugging bad tyrants. (sorry edit button doesn’t work)

  9. Helena says:

    More on the debate from Islam Q&A:

    Ruling on accepting food and sweets from a kaafir:

    If a Christian or Jewish person gives me sweets or food or a drink, is it permissible for me to ask whether it is halaal or not, or whether there is pork in it or not? Or should I keep quiet and mention the name of Allah and eat? What I mean is asking one of the Muslim brothers for his opinion about what it contains.

    Now there is proof positive that the kaafir are just luring the faithful to a life of crime.

    • caligirl9 says:

      And what’s the answer? I work with a Muslim student who has one heck of a sweet tooth. He’s never asked me what’s in the cake or cookies or brownies or muffins I bring into work when I’m onsite. As long as it has chocolate, it’s all good.

  10. Flession says:

    Silly people. You fail to see the correlation in all this: Of course kids who eat lots of candy lead to violent crimes!

    Kids who generally eat lots of candy tend to be raised by parents who shouldn’t have become parents and let their kids roam around being hellions with absolutely no real attempt at disciplining them while they complain about other parents who use a belt on their kids, all the while these ignorant parents try to treat their children as adults and not understand why they roam around destroying everything and being general wastes of spaces as parents.

    Therefore, when these children with no real moral basis grow up, they want everything and are willing to get anything they want by doing whatever they have to in order to get it!

    So obviously, the best way to fix this is to take away the candy. Not deal with the waste of space parental units.

    • canary says:

      Flession, in his study ruled out dysfunctional parents. Scientifically his study is garbage.

    • Flession says:

      Yea, I read that, but I didn’t see why it was ruled out. I think maybe they might have done some skimp reading on the first chapter of Guilty

  11. Helena says:

    Come on, caligirl, you know you’re putting pork in those chocolate cupcakes. We kaafirs all put pork in everything.

    • caligirl9 says:

      I wouldn’t want to do anything to prevent the kid from getting his 40 virgins or whatever it is when a Muslim dies. Or does he have to die in a jihad? I can’t remember my Islam trivia :)

    • Liberals Demise says:

      They get 72 Virgins if they die committing an act of violence during a jihad.

      But knowing these sick bastards, the virgins they want are all children. Which by the way now makes them pedophlies and worthy of a long, slow, agonizing death!

      (In my humble opinion)

  12. canary says:

    I guess alot of muslims have candy, chips, and soda for breakfast.

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