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Anti-Social Conduct Linked To Diet

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 676 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... ANTI-SOCIAL CONDUCT MAY BE LINKED TO DIET, SAYS STUDY
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2002
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      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 676
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.


      By James Meikle
      The Guardian
      Wednesday June 26, 2002


      Improving the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in the diets of young
      offenders appeared to reduce their anti-social behaviour dramatically,
      according to a Home Office-backed study.

      Yesterday it prompted calls for further research into the impact of
      nutrition on crime.

      Results of trials in one maximum security institution for 18- to 21-year-old
      men suggested that inmates who took special supplements committed more than
      a quarter fewer disciplinary offences while serving their sentences than
      those who were unknowingly simply taking dummy pills.

      Significant infringements of discipline, including violence, fell by 37%,
      according to authors of the study, which was organised with the help of the
      Home Office and prison service.

      The results will be published soon in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

      Hugh Montifiore, former bishop of Birmingham and chairman of Natural
      Justice, the charity behind the study at the young offenders' institution in
      Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, suggested that there was a correlation, if not a
      direct connection, between the rises in fast food consumption and youth

      "More and more fast food is being consumed. More and more made-up dishes are
      sold in supermarkets. School meals are a matter of choice, the less
      nutritious they [pupils] like best, and there is less and less cooking with
      proper ingredients.

      "None of us claims that lack of proper nutrition is the sole cause of
      anti-social behaviour. But the evidence does show that it is an hitherto
      unknown major contributor."

      Bernard Gesch, who led the study while he was at Surrey University,
      Guildford, said: "The supplements just provided the vitamins, minerals and
      fatty acids found in a good diet which the inmates should be getting anyway.
      Yet the improvement in behaviour was huge."

      It was not necessarily long-lasting, however. Shortly after the experiment
      ended staff reported that violence against them rose by 40%.

      Mr Gesch is now a research scientist in physiology at Oxford University as
      well as director of Natural Justice, which investigates causes of criminal

      His team pointed out nutrients were crucial ingredients in the biochemical
      processes that produced brain transmitters like seratonin and dopamine,
      which affect mood.

      Giving all prisoners an improved diet of micronutrients might cost about
      £3.5m a year, against an overall prison service budget of nearly £2bn.

      Mr Gesch added: "This approach needs to be retested, but it looks to be
      cheap, highly effective and humane."

      The results might be even better in adolescent children, he suggested.

      Sir David Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, said the Home
      Office should carefully consider the implications of the study.

      Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South, called for other studies to be
      conducted in schools and hospitals.

      He said: "We may be sitting on a timebomb which it is entirely within our
      ability to defuse. If we choose to feed up our kids rather than just bang
      them up, we may also discover we have found a better way of bringing them

      The government is trying to find ways of changing people's eating behaviour
      without acting like a nanny state. Healthy eating messages appear to be
      quite well understood but are far from widely converted into action.

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