Azara Blog: Eating sweets allegedly leads to violence

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Date published: 2009/10/01

The BBC says:

Children who eat sweets and chocolate every day are more likely to be violent as adults, according to UK researchers.

The Cardiff University study involving 17,500 people is the first into effects of childhood diet on adult violence.

It found 10-year-olds who ate sweets daily were significantly more likely to have a violence conviction by age 34.

Researchers suggested they had not learnt to delay gratification, but other experts said already "difficult" children might be given more sweets.

The researchers looked at data on around 17,500 people and found that 69% of the participants who were violent at the age of 34 had eaten sweets and chocolate nearly every day during childhood, compared to 42% who were non-violent.

This link between confectionery consumption and later aggression remained even after controlling for other factors such as parenting behaviour, the area where the child lived, not having educational qualifications after the age of 16 and whether they had access to a car when they were 34.

A typical "health" study. The researchers of course have a pre-conceived notion that sweets are evil, and so when they find a link they immediately jump to the conclusion that it allegedly "proves" the causative effect. Here (as often happens) they claim to have controlled for some obvious factors (well, except what does a car have to do with anything). But it's not clear they have controlled for the million and one other factors you could quite easily think of. The BBC here (for once) at least quotes "other experts" as providing one other obvious factor (so difficult children might be given more sweets to shut them up).

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