Prison study to investigate link between junk food and violence

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by Fab Foodie, 29 Jan 2008.

  1. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
    Prison study to investigate link between junk food and violence
    By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
    Tuesday, 29 January 2008
    Scientists from Oxford University say the effect of nutrition on behaviour has been underestimated. They say increases in consumption of "junk" food over the past 50 years have contributed to a rise in violence.
    The university will lead the £1.4m study in which 1,000 males aged 16 to 21 from three young offenders' institutions in England and Scotland will be randomly allocated either the vitamin-and-mineral supplements or a placebo, and followed over 12 months.
    In a pilot study of 231 prisoners by the same researchers, published in 2002, violent incidents while in custody were cut by a more than a third among those given the supplements. Overall, offences recorded by the prison authorities fell by a quarter.
    John Stein, professor of physiology at Oxford University, said: "If you could extrapolate from those results you would see a reduction of a quarter to a third in violent offences in prison. You could reduce violent offences in the community by a third. That would have a huge economic benefit."
    "Our initial findings indicated that improving what people eat could lead them to behave more sociably as well as improving their health. This is not an area currently considered in standards of dietary adequacy. We are not saying nutrition is the only influence on behaviour but we seem to have seriously underestimated its importance."
    Mark Walport, head of the Wellcome Trust, which is funding the three-year study, said: "If this study shows that nutritional supplementation affects behaviour it could have profound significance for nutritional guidelines, not only within the criminal justice system but in the wider community – in schools, for example. We are all used to nutritional guidelines for our physical health but this study could lead to revisions taking account of our mental health."
    The theory behind the trial is that when the brain is starved of essential nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which are a central building block of brain neurons, it loses "flexibility". This shortens attention spans and undermines self-control. Even though prison food is nutritious, prisoners tend to make unhealthy choices and need supplements, the researchers say.
    Bernard Gesch, a senior research scientist in the department of physiology and the director of Natural Justice, a charity that investigates the causes of offending, said the prisoners would be given the supplement containing 100 per cent of the recommended daily amount of more than 30 vitamins and minerals plus three fish-oil capsules totalling 2.25g on top of their normal diet.
    "We are trying to rehabilitate the brain to criminal justice. The law assumes crime is a matter of free will. But you can't exercise free will without involving your brain and the brain can't function properly without an adequate nutrient supply. It may have an important influence on behaviour."
    "This is a positive approach to preventing the problems of antisocial and criminal behaviour. It is simple, it seems to be highly effective and the only "risk" from a better diet is better health. It is a rare win-win situation in criminal justice."
    The Ministry of Justice is backing the three-year study, which will start in May. David Hanson, the Prisons minister, said he hoped it would shed further light on the links between nutrition and behaviour.
    The Food Standards Agency says there is not enough evidence to show harm from additives or benefit from fish-oil supplements

    Anyone wanna fight about
  2. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    Is crime a new thing then? :tongue:
  3. dan_bo

    dan_bo How much does it cost to Oldham?


    giz a minute while i finish this kebab.
  4. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    No. But an increasing poor diet probably is, if you are talking in terms of over-processing, lack of variety, lack of fresh veg etc...

    I'm sure when Jamie Oliver did the school lunch thing, they found that children were better behaved for having had a decent meal as opposed to takeaway, so I don't see why the same wouldn't be true for adults in prison.
  5. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    Yeah, I can see why Jamie Oliver would drive people to violence! :tongue:
  6. Landslide

    Landslide Rare Migrant

    Called to the bar
    If these supplements are going to be effective, I feel it begs the question, "What kind of rubbish are we feeding inmates in our prison system?"
    Maybe we should send Jamie Oliver in - I doubt Dom Tyler'd have any objections!
  7. As Dom says..."Porridge not Petrol":tongue:
  8. yenrod

    yenrod Guest

    Excessive amounts of honey and oats + milk makes one'...

    As i found out one day !
  9. Dave5N

    Dave5N Über Member

    Did they not do the First and Second World Wars, not to mention every other bloodthirsty period you'd care to mention in History class when they were in school?

    Or were they all away that day? :smile:
  10. Keith Oates

    Keith Oates Janner

    Penarth, Wales
    A good way to get a #1.4 million hand out I suppose!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  11. Abitrary

    Abitrary New Member

    I'd have to agree with the original post, because 95% of death row inmates order mcdonalds or burger king, or something from a local relatively unknown burger franchise, as their final meal.

    If there were death sentences for lawyers and accountants doing time for fraud, no doubt they would have stuff like a seabass and creamed potato.
  12. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    I think we all recognise the difference between state sponsored warfare and the sort of daily shootings,knifings and beatings we seem to hear about all too often....
  13. simoncc

    simoncc New Member

    Most deaths by violence in Europe predated junk food. The two world wars, the concentration camps, Stalin's antics and other causes of violent deaths happened before McDonalds had opened a single branch.
  14. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    Yes Simon, we know that. No one is saying that violent death didn't exist before junk food. The point is, oh actually, you're only trying to be a smartarse and you never show any sign of listening or learning, I shan't bother...
  15. Twenty Inch

    Twenty Inch New Member

    Behind a desk
    Ignore list, Arch, that's what it's there for. Quit responding and he'll have to go and pleasure himself.
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