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The Bitter Side of a Sweet Treat: Giving Candy to Kids may Lead to Violent Crimes

by: Elizabeth Walling

(NaturalNews) Most parents are aware that too much refined sugar isn't good for their kids. Now a new study indicates that children who are given sweets on a daily basis are more likely to end up as violent adults. The Welsh study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, examined data on more than 17,000 children born in April of 1970. The data was derived from the British Cohort Study, which provided detailed information about the participants at points throughout their childhood and adulthood.

When questioned at age 34, there were 35 participants who reported being convicted of a violent crime. Out of these, 69 percent reported eating candy daily as a child, while 42 participants without a history of violence reported consuming daily sweets as children. These statistics occur after accounting for factors such as gender, education, family income and parenting styles.

Researchers, however, are not entirely sure how to interpret the results of this preliminary study. Study author Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University in Wales, says sugar is not entirely to blame. Children who receive sugary treats every day may not learn to delay gratification and could develop poor impulse control. These traits are linked to delinquency later in life.

"We think that it is more to do with the way that sweets are given to children rather than the sweets themselves. Using sweets to quiet noisy children might just reinforce problems for later in life," adds Moore.

Experts like Melinda Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, agree that the study doesn't prove sugar is the true cause behind violence in adulthood. She says the children in the study may have experienced violence at home, and suggests the possibility that children who receive candy on a daily basis may suffer from poor overall nutrition.

In fact, Simon Moore discovered the link between childhood nutrition and adult behavior before he participated in this study. "Kids with the worst problems tend to be impulsive risk takers, and these kids had terrible diets – breakfast was a Coke and a bag of chips."

We know that sugar weakens the immune system in children and also prevents some nutrients from being properly utilized, which means limiting refined sugar is a definite part of providing children with a nutritious diet. But in response to the results of this study, Moore is quoted saying, "It's not fair to blame it on the candy."

Not fair to whom? Since its doubtful candy itself will suffer hurt feelings, perhaps this means it would be unfair to the commercialized food industry if suddenly parents stopped buying sodas, fruit drinks, sugary cereals, cookies and candy to pacify their children in an effort to prevent violent behavior. The effect would likely be profound, as you could imagine.

Would it solve all violence issues? Of course not. We know that sugar is not to blame for all of our problems, but if the use of refined sugar was greatly reduced in our society we would notice two things: first, a broad improvement in behavior and health in both children and adults. And secondly, commercial food companies would notice their fat wallets slimming down considerably. Neither the food or pharmaceutical industries are quite ready for an outcome such as this, so the real effects of refined sugar on children continues to be played down by experts of the industry.

Admittedly, the study in question is far from extensive and can't be considered a clear conviction against sugar. What we can infer from this study is that when parents take a more conscientious approach toward their children when it comes to food, it can have a positive effect on the lives and future of their children. Nutrition is not the only important aspect of raising children, but good nutrition is a solid foundation which parents can build upon to help their children grow into productive, mindful adults.

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