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Daily Candy in Childhood Linked to Violence in Adulthood
Date:10/2/2009

But experts note cause-and-effect not proven in study

FRIDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children fed candy and sweets on a daily basis are more likely to be convicted of violent crimes as adults, a new study finds.

Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales looked at data on 17,415 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.

Thirty-five of those children went on to report at age 34 that they'd been convicted of a violent crime, the researchers found.

About 69 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 October issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, is the first to look at childhood nutrition and violent behavior, according to the study.

The link between eating candy and violence held true after controlling for other factors, including teachers' reports of aggression and impulsivity at age 10, the child's gender, and parenting style, including authoritative versus more liberal discipline styles.

So, does this mean parents should ban sweets entirely?

Not necessarily, Moore said. A possible explanation for the candy-violence association is that giving children sweets and chocolate regularly may prevent them from learning to delay gratification. That, in turn, may encourage i
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