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Science Idle

Candy Linked To Violence In Study 205

T Murphy writes "A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry links daily consumption of candy at the age of 10 to an increased chance of being convicted of a violent crime by age 34. The researchers theorize the correlation comes from the way candy is given rather than the candy itself. Candy frequently given as a short-term reward can encourage impulsive behavior, which can more likely lead to violence. An alternative explanation offered by the American Dietetic Association is that the candy indicates poor diet, which hinders brain development. The scientists stress they don't imply candy should be removed from a child's diet, although they do recommend moderation. The study controls for teachers' reports of aggression and impulsivity at age 10, the child's gender, and parenting style. The study can be found here, but the full text is behind a paywall."


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Candy Linked To Violence In Study

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  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <.gro.todhsals. .ta. .deteled.> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:16AM (#29678833)

    If you eat candy as a replacement for love, you are more likely to be violent because of a lack of love.

    Just a theory. And one way of many. But I've seen it too often, that a addiction, being itself a replacement for something else you need, does mean that when you don't get it, you become desperate and do things that you normally would not do. Not specifically violence. More like when you destroy everything around you because you can't stand the situation. (Similar to rage.)

    We should be clear about those two things:
    1. Candy is a likely candidate for addictions.
    2. Addictions always are a replacement for a lack of something else.
    So find that something else, and help the person get that stuff so much, that they forget the addiction because they don't need it anymore.

    For children, this usually is the lack of good parents.
    (I said for a long time, that social and parenting skills must be an essential skill you learn in a class in school! [Which for the second generation will mean that they also learn it from their now capable parents at home.])

  • Re:scaremongering? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:30AM (#29678893) Homepage

    Makes me wonder. My 3 year old likes crackers and chips just fine but prefers steamed vegetables. (absolutely adores peas but then again, he tends to count them before he eats them) He doesn't care for candy of any kind, can't get him near ice cream and will barely eat doughnuts or sweet pastries. I don't force anything on him at all in terms of foods he likes and pretty much let him choose his favorites on his own. (Would I intervene if he was predisposed to sweets? yeah, probably.) So far, he likes "good food." It helps that his mother actually cooks at home and has always made his babyfood from scratch since he was introduced to foods in the first place. I guess it is what he is used to. But if I were to asked what his absolute favorite food was? It would have to be any kind of meat and bacon in particular. I know THAT can't be too healthy.

    To be clear, I eat cookies and candies and ice cream at least once or twice a week if not more at times. I always offer these things to him nearly every time. He tries it but just doesn't like it. So far, I just think it's interesting. And while he is uncontrollably curious and shows strong indication of being rather analytical, he doesn't have any real behavior problems at all... there were no "terrible twos" though his assertiveness seems to be building more and more lately but still nothing compared to what I have seen in other, more typical children.

    Yes, it had occurred to me that I do pay a lot of attention to him and his development and perhaps I do a bit of shaping without realizing it. But he's just happy and bubbly and you can't help but be attracted to a kid like that.

  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:46AM (#29678963) Homepage
    So what is the term used? Sweets?
  • by imakemusic ( 1164993 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:03AM (#29679055)
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:21AM (#29679163)
    With halloween coming up, just try refusing to give sweets (american translation: candy) to the little beggars that come calling. See if those who don't get given sweets are more or less violent than those who do.

    Statistically demonstrable != sensible

  • by jonadab ( 583620 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:26AM (#29679191) Homepage Journal
    > Candy is often used by such people as a replacement for
    > parental authority in controlling their kids' behavior.

    Actually, it can be even worse than that.

    There are parents out there who make absolutely no attempt whatsoever to control their kids' behavior or teach them *anything*, at all, ever. They let them eat quite literally whatever they want, which generally does not result in anything you could describe as a healthy diet. And they let them *do* whatever they want, which doesn't necessarily result in the most upright law-abiding citizens possible.
  • Re:umm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @08:26AM (#29679595) Homepage Journal

    This is psychology/psychiatry, not Science.

    Do not conflate psychiatry and psychology. Psychiatry is a science, and uses an evidence-based system along with falsifiable theories. Psychiatry focuses on chemical imbalances in the brain and psychiatrists mostly prescribe drugs to control these chemical imbalances.

    Psychology is a also a science, though theories are not all 100% evidence based. However, increasingly, the field of psychology has been becoming more scientific and following more scientific principles. Even the still very prevalent but somewhat fading theories of classical and modern behaviorism are based on scientific experimentation and study. Postmodern psychology works hand in hand with the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry to attempt to understand human behavior as basically being driven by chemical reactions and neural networks in the brain.

  • Re:umm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @09:45AM (#29680385) Homepage

    While I agree that a sample of 35 isn't great statistics, the odds of having 69% of them in the candy-eating category if they WERE the same as the background population is under 0.05%, as I'm sure you know. (I just did a Monte Carlo simulation with 100000 trials.) So it's not the best study in the universe, but this is real human data: you take what you can get, particularly in sample size. It's not enough of a study to drive policy, but it's certainly enough to be publishable and enough to warrant further attention.

  • Re:umm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08, 2009 @10:44AM (#29681107)

    While I agree that a sample of 35 isn't great statistics, the odds of having 69% of them in the candy-eating category if they WERE the same as the background population is under 0.05%, as I'm sure you know. (I just did a Monte Carlo simulation with 100000 trials.) So it's not the best study in the universe, but this is real human data: you take what you can get, particularly in sample size. It's not enough of a study to drive policy, but it's certainly enough to be publishable and enough to warrant further attention.

    This is a good point - there are not that many violent people out there (despite what TV tells us)... So if you want to do some population based work in this area you're going to get low numbers.

  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) * on Thursday October 08, 2009 @11:06AM (#29681383)

    Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial []

    Even that study could have been done better but it was enough to get the point across. Petrochemical food additives such as artificial coloring (FD&C anything), flavoring and preservatives (BHA, BHT, some others) are inherently toxic and immune response to them varies wildly between individuals. With some people you'll never notice a difference. With others, the tiniest bit of, say, red dye will make them hyper, violent, you name it. Synthetics are a major reason why ADHD has become epidemic.

    For me, synthetics were making me more impulsive and a bit mean. Nothing dramatic but switching to a clean diet made a noticeable difference in my psychology and I'm in better shape now too.

    Keeping synthetics out of your diet can be difficult. It helps if there's a nearby Whole Foods Market or similar store that bans all synthetics. There is NO REASON for synthetics in food other than that they save food processors from having to buy real ingredients.

    Why haven't you heard more about this? Who's going to pay for the research? It won't lead to a prescription drug, surgery, or any other medical intervention. It'd wipe out most of the market for ADHD meds (not all, some people have congenital neurochemical imbalances). It would require people to learn how to cook again.

    Much more info at the Feingold Association research [] page.

  • Re:umm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by metrometro ( 1092237 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @11:44AM (#29681855)

    Yes, thank you. Sample is WAY too small.

    It's worst than 35 people. They had 35 violent criminals multipled by (.65 - .42 extra candy eaters) = eight people. This finding is based on EIGHT FRICKIN PEOPLE reporting they ate candy as a child.

  • marshmallow effect (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08, 2009 @12:52PM (#29682793)
    Also - check out the marshmallow effect []
  • Re:umm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:44PM (#29684131) Homepage Journal

    Pro dog trainer here with 40 years experience. I an adamantly against using food rewards, primarily because it inverts the master/underling relationship (it also actively prevents the trainer from learning to accurately read the dog's responses).

    As it works in nature, the *underling* offers a treat to the =master= ("see? I'm useful! don't kill me!"), who then may OPT to graciously "share" part of it with the underling. (We even see this in the human workplace, where the underlings' labour brings in a profit, which the owner then graciously shares with them as wages.)

    But if the master gives the dog a food reward, a dog that really wants to please becomes confused ("Huh?? I thought YOU were the master, now you're saying *I* am? WTF??") and often will refuse to even take the "reward" (unless starved for several days first, and yes, some food-based trainers DO keep their dogs half-starved, to ensure that the food-reward will be accepted). Conversely a dog that already has dominance issues gets that notion validated ("Hah, they're giving ME stuff, that PROVES I'm the boss!")

    Young children and dogs think and respond very similarly, to the point that I always tell folks that their new puppy is like getting a permanent 5-year-old child (act accordingly and all will be copasetic). Draw your own conclusions about what bribing kids does to their notion of who's the REAL authority in their lives.

If you sell diamonds, you cannot expect to have many customers. But a diamond is a diamond even if there are no customers. -- Swami Prabhupada