Evidence of the importance of the biological aspect of crime and violence continues to mount. Is There A Relationship Between Diet, Nutrition And Criminality?. Does television cause crime? The idea that people copy the violence they watch is debated endlessly by criminologists. But this column. These specific foods create unpleasant behavioral effects, highlighting an important connection between food and characteristics of criminal.
But the more interesting question is what this diet might do to your mind. There are now scores of studies suggesting that it hurts the brain as much as it hurts the heart and the pancreas. Among the many proposed associations is a link between bad food and violent or antisocial behaviour. The most spectacular results were those reported in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine in The researchers had conducted a double-blind, controlled experiment in a jail for chronic offenders aged between 13 and Many of the boys there were deficient in certain nutrients.
Link Between Diet and Crime?
The researchers treated half the inmates with capsules containing the missing nutrients, and half with placebos. They also counselled all the prisoners in the trial about improving their diets.
But among the inmates in the placebo group who refused to improve their diets, there was no reduction. The researchers also wired their subjects to an electroencephalograph to record brainwave patterns, and found a major decrease in abnormalities after 13 weeks on supplements.
Link Between Diet and Crime? | Vegetarian News and Views
Researchers in Finland found that all 68 of the violent offenders they tested during another study suffered from reactive hypoglycaemia: In March this year the lead author of the report, Bernard Gesch, told the Ecologist magazine that "having a bad diet is now a better predictor of future violence than past violent behaviour Likewise, a diagnosis of psychopathy, generally perceived as being a better predictor than a criminal past, is still miles behind what you can predict just from looking at what a person eats.
Quite aside from the physiological effects of eating too much sugar apparent to anyone who has attended a children's partythe brain, whose function depends on precise biochemical processes, can't work properly with insufficient raw materials.
The most important of these appear to be unsaturated fatty acids especially the omega 3 typeszinc, magnesium, iron, folate and the B vitamins, which happen to be those in which the prisoners in the study were most deficient. A report published at the end of last year by the pressure group Sustain explained what appear to be clear links between deteriorating diets and the growth of depression, behavioural problems, Alzheimer's and other forms of mental illness.
Sixty per cent of the dry weight of the brain is fat, which is "unique in the body for being predominantly composed of highly unsaturated fatty acids". Zinc and magnesium affect both its metabolism of lipids and its production of neurotransmitters - the chemicals which permit the nerve cells to communicate with each other. The more junk you eat, the less room you have for foods which contain the chemicals the brain needs. This is not to suggest that food advertisers are solely responsible for the decline in the nutrients we consume.
As Graham Harvey's new book We Want Real Food shows, industrial farming, dependent on artificial fertilisers, has greatly reduced the mineral content of vegetables, while the quality of meat and milk has also declined.
Nor do these findings suggest that a poor diet is the sole cause of crime and antisocial behaviour. Well, since vegetarian diets represent nutrition par excellence, we would expect some pretty definite effects.
Tough on crime, to hell with the causes of crime if they make money
King was sentenced to a 28 year term at Powhatan Correctional Center in Virginia for burglary. When he got to prison King weighed pounds and was addicted to cocaine. Since that time he has eaten his way back to physical and mental health.
King became a near vegan through a special program at the prison, and it had a big effect on him. He lost 50 pounds, freed himself of drug dependency and earned 53 credits at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College with an A average.
So prisoners who give up eating meat improve their behavior. How about the effect of meat on those who produce it, slaughterhouse workers for instance? Would merely producing meat incline a person to violence and crime? University of Windsor Criminology professor Amy Fitzgerald says statistics show that there may be a link between slaughterhouses and brutal crime. According to the professor, as the number of slaughterhouse workers in a community increases, the crime rate also increases.
Fitzgerald controlled for factors such as the influx of new residents and other factors when slaughterhouses first open but the data was clear.
Nor could the violence be blamed on factory work itself. These were not associated with a rise in crime at all. The numbers leave few explanations other than the slaughterhouses being somehow involved.What is a healthy relationship with food? - Rhiannon Lambert - TEDxUniversityofEastAnglia