I thought of that analysis recently as I read a report on a piece of British research about nutrition and prison behaviors ("Health food is the recipe for peace," by Marco Visscher,ODE, June 2007, page 80).
Oxford senior research scientist, Bernard Gesch conducted research on the effects of good nutrition on social behavioral outcomes.
In a British prison for youth offenders, the researcher divided 231 prisoners, all young men, into two groups. For a year-and-a-half, one group received food supplements that included the suggested daily requirements for vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. The other group received a placebo. No one in the prison knew who was getting which regimen.
The results? Those receiving the more robust and balanced diet committed 26% fewer offences and 37% fewer violent assaults as compared to the group receiving the placebo. The study was designed to control for ethnic or social factors that might have affected the two groups and skewed the study. The obvious factor of influence on the outcome of the research project was dietary.
Researchers couldn't help but ask a big "what if" about everyone in the study regarding their diet and nutrition while growing up. Eating properly seems to have some beneficial, determining influence on behavior.
The study of youth offenders went on to report, regarding children, "There will be increasing evidence that young people are undermined by what they eat. There is not a diet yet that takes behaviour into account. In short: this is a societal time bomb."
"There is an enormous increase in the number of prisoners, not only in Europe but most certainly in the United States. Research suggests that nutrition is a cheap, humane and highly effective way to reduce anti-social behaviour. We need to know more, or the composition of the right nutrients. It could be a recipe for peace."
Interesting and intriguing.
Helping provide nutritious food for children and adults is likely an essential ingredient in any plan to fashion a more workable and productive community. I expect we knew that already, but this study does provide fresh perspective.