A new study on the correlation between candy and violence may really spook parents. According to the study, children fed candy and sweets on a daily basis are more likely to be convicted of violent crimes as adults. Quick: Hide the Snickers bars!
Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales looked at data on 17,000 children born in a single week during April 1970 in the United Kingdom. The data, from the British Cohort Study, included detailed health and lifestyle information on the children at several points during their lifetimes, including ages 5, 10 and throughout adulthood.
Nearly 70 percent of those who reported having committed violent acts also reported eating candy daily at age 10, compared to 42 percent of those who did not have a violent criminal past, the study authors noted.
“There appears to be a link between childhood diet and adult violence, although the nature of the mechanism underlying this association needs further scrutiny,” said study author Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University.
The research, published in the issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, is the first to look at childhood nutrition and violent behavior, according to the study.
The interpretation: those who are allowed to eat candy freely as a child without having to wait patiently for the treat or to do something to earn the treat will most likely carry that impulsive behavior and need for instant gratification into adulthood, and possibly into jail.
Some experts were skeptical of the findings.
“While it’s an interesting correlation, any scientist will tell you that a correlation never shows causation,” said Melinda Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, in an interview with MedLine Plus. “If there is any real link, my instinct is that the daily candy may be indicative of certain lifestyle factors that the researchers did not capture. For example, I do not see that the researchers were able to control for violence in the home. Perhaps children who end up violent as adults also tend to grow up in violent homes, and perhaps candy is used excessively as an ‘ease the pain’ tool.”
“I see no reason to tell parents to be frightened of giving their children candy in moderation, as long as the overall diet of the child is well-rounded,” Johnson said.
A relief to trick-or-treaters and candy manufacturers all over the world!