Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Candy Linked To Violence In Study

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the gummy-worms-and-steal dept.

Science 205

T Murphy writes "A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry links daily consumption of candy at the age of 10 to an increased chance of being convicted of a violent crime by age 34. The researchers theorize the correlation comes from the way candy is given rather than the candy itself. Candy frequently given as a short-term reward can encourage impulsive behavior, which can more likely lead to violence. An alternative explanation offered by the American Dietetic Association is that the candy indicates poor diet, which hinders brain development. The scientists stress they don't imply candy should be removed from a child's diet, although they do recommend moderation. The study controls for teachers' reports of aggression and impulsivity at age 10, the child's gender, and parenting style. The study can be found here, but the full text is behind a paywall."

cancel ×

205 comments

umm (-1, Redundant)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678615)

correllation is not causation?

Re:umm (5, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678701)

correllation is not causation?

agggh! Read this: The study controls for teachers' reports of aggression and impulsivity at age 10, the child's gender, and parenting style.

Do you think scientists with >10 years training know less about statistics than you? They actively try to exclude other causes, which is what "controls for" means. Any other ideas for root causes that do not include those controlled for? Or were you just trying to be smart with a nice one-liner because it worked so well for others?

Re:umm (3, Insightful)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678731)

"A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry links daily consumption of candy at the age of 10 to an increased chance of being convicted of a violent crime by age 34"

It doesn't say how much of an increased chance, and whether or not other rewards (such as toys, or non-candy foodstuffs) would also increase this. Is it the candy that's causing the impulsive behaviour or the rewards themselves? If it's the Candy, which chemical, or mixture of chemicals, is causing it and is it contained in all candy?
The article doesn't say, and I'm certainly not paying to read the whole thing.

Eating Candy at the age of 10 does not put you in jail 24 years later.

Re:umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678773)

Wow there buddy, you're getting all technical and Scientific here. This is psychology/psychiatry, not Science. Relax, it's just a joke.

Some people take jokes and pseudoscience way too seriously.

Re:umm (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679595)

This is psychology/psychiatry, not Science.

Do not conflate psychiatry and psychology. Psychiatry is a science, and uses an evidence-based system along with falsifiable theories. Psychiatry focuses on chemical imbalances in the brain and psychiatrists mostly prescribe drugs to control these chemical imbalances.

Psychology is a also a science, though theories are not all 100% evidence based. However, increasingly, the field of psychology has been becoming more scientific and following more scientific principles. Even the still very prevalent but somewhat fading theories of classical and modern behaviorism are based on scientific experimentation and study. Postmodern psychology works hand in hand with the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry to attempt to understand human behavior as basically being driven by chemical reactions and neural networks in the brain.

Re:umm (3, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678851)

Eating Candy at the age of 10 does not put you in jail 24 years later???
Yet improving the diet of jail populations does seem to reduce violence too.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/oct/17/prisonsandprobation.ukcrime [guardian.co.uk]
Thankfully smart people around the world will follow this up and I hope get some idea of diet, a spike in sugar, hormones, brain activity and ongoing development.
It might the a cheap colouring, cheap high-fructose corn syrup like structure or amount consumed during development.

Re:umm (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679159)

It was published in a British journal - though I don't know where the research took place - and HFCS is quite unusual in most of the EU so it may not be that.

Though glucose syrup is certainly ubiquitous in sweet things sold in the UK and is apparently normally made from corn or wheat, it doesn't have a particularly high fructose content.

Re:umm (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679343)

Yes I tried express that with the work 'like'. Who knows what goes into candy when their are few rules other than no plastics, less heavy metals.

Re:umm (5, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678891)

It doesn't say how much of an increased chance

Not directly, but the article does give sample size information and goes on to state: "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."

Then again, even if you were correct I'm not sure what the point of bringing it up was. Read the full study if you're actually interested in what its findings are.

Is it the candy that's causing the impulsive behaviour or the rewards themselves?

A perfectly valid question. A little reading comprehension would indicate that they're not sure, given that two different groups are hypothesizing two different explanations based on the same data. In fact you've merely restated the two positions as a question.

If it's the Candy, which chemical, or mixture of chemicals, is causing it and is it contained in all candy?

Well, you're getting on the pedantic side now so far as criticizing the study goes. But yes, if it turns out to be the contents of the candy itself I'm sure they'll investigate that further. Unless you demonstrate who's saying that candy is the actual cause of the increased violence though, I'm not sure what the question has to do with what you quoted for your response, nor to what degree your new post somehow explains what you originally said.

Yes, correlation is not causation, and that's important to distinguish. If you're not simply going for brownie-point mods, then you're going to have to explain who said otherwise. Yours was a root comment, without parent, so one has to assume you're talking about the article. Well, it's not the title, which simply says "linked." Nor the summary, which explicitly uses "correlation." And hell, the article itself actually uses the phrase "correlation never shows causation." So other than the cheap mod points you're accused of, what the hell were either of your posts trying to accomplish?

My suspicion is that you're one of those people who thinks repeating memes without even a cursory examination of what he's referring to makes you sound smarter. If that's the case: No problem, carry on. Otherwise I suggest you articulate what value you're trying to add to the conversation more clearly.

Re:umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679169)

Is it the candy that's causing the impulsive behaviour or the rewards themselves? If it's the Candy, which chemical, or mixture of chemicals, is causing it and is it contained in all candy?
The article doesn't say, and I'm certainly not paying to read the whole thing.

Try reading the article again, which is stating it is not the candy but the way it is given as a reward

The researchers theorize the correlation comes from the way candy is given rather than the candy itself. Candy frequently given as a short-term reward can encourage impulsive behavior, which can more likely lead to violence.

Also reread this bit,

An alternative explanation offered by the American Dietetic Association is that the candy indicates poor diet, which hinders brain development.

Which is stating that it is not the candy itself but that the consumation of candy indicates poor dietry practices elsewhere.

Re:umm (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679729)

Another correlation I have observed is that in 100% of all cases, Triple Felon Inmates with Diabetes do not eat candy, for long. Also, another observation, Researchers with nothing to show for their work can behave in predictable natures.

Re:umm (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678819)

Do you think scientists with >10 years training know less about statistics than you?

In this case? Yes.

From another article summarising the same research (might be paraphrasing slightly): "We tried to control for other factors such as poverty..."

from the article: "Using sweets to quiet noisy children might just reinforce problems for later in life."

So yes, basically this has nothing to do with candy. It's just the well known phenomena of behavioural psychology, whereby rewarding people for bad behaviour encourages bad behaviour. To publish a study about this with "candy" as the focus is at best stupid, and at worst, highly disingenuous.

Re:umm (1, Insightful)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679045)

To reevaluate your quote on bad behaviour reinfocement:

We taxpayers in today's semi-socialist Europe are constantly told that social security, unemployment benefits, welfare (and of course taxes) MUST be that high to keep poor people from starving - and rioting.

So we are told we're pacifying potential rioters by giving them money. Actual riots are always treated with more money. Most parties on the left and right tell us that all violence and problems will simply go away when we give poor people more money.

We basically do the candy vs. violence experiment in real-time, on a continent-wide scale and with no control group and no backout plan. And they're rioting daily in Malmo, Paris, Berlin and all other cities of at least a million people. They're burning cars, preferably BMW and Mercedes of the rich of course, in these cities, and they've totaled several thousand cars in this year alone. And yet we don't do anything about it other than pouring money in "good causes" for them.

I guess we should invest in arms manufacturers now.

Re:umm (2, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679117)

No, we in "today's semi-socialist Europe" are not told that social security is to prevent riots, neither constantly nor only now and then. I was going to say that I'm not saying you're lying, but you are: show me where they say that (party sources, not internet dweebs like yourself), and show me sources for the daily riots in Paris, Berlin and Malmo.

Basically, you support your "argument" with nothing but utter bullshit. That ought to tell you something about yourself.

Re:umm (4, Informative)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678897)

I work for a living in statistics, namely as a quant.

This study is crap!

17,000 tests, and 35 yes count them 35 had a violent crime. Of those 35, 65 percent said that they ate candy whereas in the 17000 only 42 said so.

See the flaw? The flaw is that the pool size of the violent criminals is actually way too small. Instead what they need to do is go to the prison system and see if the 65% number holds up. Because only with a big enough pool size can something be said.

Right now this study is crap, because the results could be the result of a sampling flaw.

If anything can be said of this study is that you need to verify it with the prison system.

Re:umm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679139)

Yup, the quality of the statistics the study relies on are at best utterly rubbish.

Re:umm (-1, Flamebait)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679433)

This study is crap!

Sounds like somebody had too much candy as a child...

Research tip (Not for those without tenure) (-1, Troll)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679807)

If anything can be said of this study is that you need to verify it with the prison system.

If the 65% number doesn't hold up, investigate the correlation between crime and a diet high in fried chicken and watermelon.

Re:umm (4, Funny)

justthisdude (779510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678957)

correllation is not causation? agggh!

Hey, calm down Matt4077. Stop yelling at the nice slashdotters and I will give you a piece of candy.

Re:umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679199)

Well, and I say this: Maybe children free to spend their pocket money on candy were getting less parental attention than children returning home every day from school to have a proper meal (i.e. not including candy). Maybe this falls under "parenting style", maybe not. Maybe children under stress (divorced parents, not having good grades, rejection from the opposite sex, getting bullied, whatever) were seeking refuge in candy to fight the stress. Does this fall under "impulsivity" or not? The study is based on teacher's reports. How well did the teachers (think that they) know the children? Focusing at the age of 10 is another point, which stresses out the fact that the data originate from before puberty, a life period during which all sorts of stuff happen to a person.

On the other hand, it was kind of the researchers to state the following: "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 impulsivity, which is linked to delinquency." Then again, imulsivity is *linked* to delinquency, which brings yet another correlation into play. Maybe a child not learning to be thankful for a treat will turn out to be a major asshole in the future, but not *necessarily* a violent offender.

In addition, I personally think that even scientists with >10 years training that certainly know statistics much better than me should force that lame journalist also give some correlation uncertainty bounds, if they want me to think any better of them. Oh well, maybe it *is* publish or perish...

So yes, correlation upon correlation is certainly not causation. For the present article I blame the following people:
- the so-called journalist, that published this article with a stupid headline and the only purpose of drawing our attention to the advertisements
- Richard Feynman, for not having stressed the term "cargo cult science" loud enough

Re:umm (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679559)

Putting aside the fact that the stats don't seem to add up. I could see parents inadvertently training their kinds to be criminals using candy.

My older sister (29) and I (28) were smacked around by our stepfather when we got in to trouble when we were younger, my younger brother (21) wasn't. I became a developer, my older sister is a cop, and my brother became bodywork mechanic in a "custom work" chop shop. He's constantly getting in trouble, He had several drinking and driving charges one of which he crashed his friends truck, He was caught with a kilo of weed that he was trying to sell, multiple speeding tickets, assault charges and the list goes on. He always seems to weasels his why out of jail some how.

So from my own experience negative reinforcement is much more effective then bribery. That being said there are other factors that could contribute. My sister and I have the same father. My brothers father died years back from Cirrhosis of the liver. His family have a history of alcoholism, my father's doesn't. Being considerably younger then my sister and I he may feel like an outcast, which could also contribute to his "acting out".

Re:umm (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679413)

I'm sorry to say it Matt, but Canazza has a point, in this particular example it really doesn't seem to be proven that this correlation does indeed = causation. How do we know that this is not a case of genetics -- impulsive, violence-prone parents pass the genes for their impulsive behavior down to their child. The child, by their genetic information, is already more likely to be impulsive and violent. The parents, being impulsive, are going to be more likely to reward their child gratuitously often. By this reasoning, children of impulsive parents would get more candy, and then grow up to be more violent than members of society as a whole, but those two facts would be two symptoms of a root cause, rather than one being an effect of the other. I'm not saying that the conclusions drawn by the study are wrong and mine is right, but I also see no control present in the study to rule out this equally plausible hypothesis, which, in my mind, would suggest that they ought to go back to the drawing board before spouting shit like this in public.

Re:umm (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679441)

The study controls for teachers' reports of aggression and impulsivity at age 10, the child's gender, and parenting style.

That still does not imply causation, merely much more tight correlation. It could be that violent people simply like candy more, not that the candy led an otherwise good child to grow into a violent offender. It could be that there is yet another cause, beyond what the researchers controlled for, that is the cause of both the sweet tooth and violent behavior.

A way to make the causation argument more substantive would be to come up with a way to test their causation hypothesis:

The researchers theorize the correlation comes from the way candy is given rather than the candy itself. Candy frequently given as a short-term reward can encourage impulsive behavior, which can more likely lead to violence.

I'm guessing that this might be what's next for them.

Re:umm (3, Funny)

DMiax (915735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678707)

No, the act of causing some effect is not at all related to the act of becoming a small town in minnesota [wikipedia.org] .

Re:umm (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678747)

If the use of short-term rewards for behavior affects the level of violence in people later in life, perhaps it may be worthwhile to re-examine the use of treats as an aid in training dogs?

Re:umm (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679465)

xkcd said it better [xkcd.com] .

Got a question? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678621)

Does "I'd kill for a Zagnut Bar" count?

scaremongering? (1, Insightful)

mateomiguel (614660) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678627)

This just in also: 100% of violent criminals drink dihydrogen monoxide at young age, inhale/exhale regularly, consume vast quantities of carbohydrates throughout childhood, adulthood.

Re:scaremongering? (1, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678637)

*dons Kevlar vest*
*rewards you with candy*

Re:scaremongering? (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678647)

Yeah but so do 100% of people who are not violent criminals.

I think there may be a correlation between consumption of unhealthy food, and quality of parenting. Parents who do a good job tend not to encourage consumption of junk food. The same parents steer their kids away from becoming criminals.

Re:scaremongering? (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678893)

Makes me wonder. My 3 year old likes crackers and chips just fine but prefers steamed vegetables. (absolutely adores peas but then again, he tends to count them before he eats them) He doesn't care for candy of any kind, can't get him near ice cream and will barely eat doughnuts or sweet pastries. I don't force anything on him at all in terms of foods he likes and pretty much let him choose his favorites on his own. (Would I intervene if he was predisposed to sweets? yeah, probably.) So far, he likes "good food." It helps that his mother actually cooks at home and has always made his babyfood from scratch since he was introduced to foods in the first place. I guess it is what he is used to. But if I were to asked what his absolute favorite food was? It would have to be any kind of meat and bacon in particular. I know THAT can't be too healthy.

To be clear, I eat cookies and candies and ice cream at least once or twice a week if not more at times. I always offer these things to him nearly every time. He tries it but just doesn't like it. So far, I just think it's interesting. And while he is uncontrollably curious and shows strong indication of being rather analytical, he doesn't have any real behavior problems at all... there were no "terrible twos" though his assertiveness seems to be building more and more lately but still nothing compared to what I have seen in other, more typical children.

Yes, it had occurred to me that I do pay a lot of attention to him and his development and perhaps I do a bit of shaping without realizing it. But he's just happy and bubbly and you can't help but be attracted to a kid like that.

Re:scaremongering? (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679151)

> But if I were to asked what his absolute favorite
> food was? It would have to be any kind of meat and
> bacon in particular. I know THAT can't be too healthy.

Actually, for young children, it's not as much of a problem as you might think -- provided they outgrow it at some point, preferably before reaching junior high age.

But yeah, you want to particularly encourage the vegetables, because those will *always* be healthy, no matter how old he gets.

Re:scaremongering? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679391)

You might want to get his tongue checked to see if he can detect sugar. You could try a taste-test between un/sugared water or perhaps bake some cookies without the sugar.

I don't remember how rare it is in people, but it is supposedly common in felines.

Re:scaremongering? (-1, Troll)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678981)

Brilliant observation, comrade MichaelSmith. Please stand in the waiting line of parents wishing to control offspring, we will get to you later.

PS If, in fact, you do not actually have children, but wish to expound on the pure idiocy of those who do, you can line up over there. Thank you for your patience.

Re:scaremongering? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679039)

Oddly enough my sons eight year old classmate was over for dinner today. He ate his dinner without being prompted, a vast improvement over my son. He is from a bigger and less well off family, and is expected to look after himself in situations where my son would be coddled and hand fed by myself and my wife.

So yeah its hard raising kids well. I don't claim to do the best job of it. Most of us control our offspring to some degree, getting it right at the start is an important trick. Knowing when to let go later on is important too.

My wife will be overseas for the next three weeks so I will be flying solo, so to speak. The last time we did this his maturity improved to no end.

Re:scaremongering? (2, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679455)

My wife will be overseas for the next three weeks so I will be flying solo, so to speak. The last time we did this his maturity improved to no end.

You, on the return of your wife: "Now honey, you're going to hear a lot of crazy talk about our son working in a burlesque house"

Re:scaremongering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679473)

You hand-feed your 8 year old??! My daughter is 1 year 1 month old and she drinks her milk from a straw cup we set in front of her and eats everything herself off a tray. No way would I intervene when she can manage perfectly fine herself.

Re:scaremongering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679335)

Actaully - further study indicates 100% of those who are convicted of a violent crime before the age of 34 - Ate bread - so obviously we have ban bread.

Re:scaremongering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679357)

Well, I did a scientific study the other day in my office. 100% of people who work are total pyschos, wackjobs, sychophants, losers or egotistical, gutter dwelling, bad smelling, ignoramuses.

Did I mention I got fired? I love science.

Re:scaremongering? (1)

Kharny (239931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679927)

unfortunately, 100% of the people not convicted of crime also ate bread.

On the other hand, i've yet to see a single crime after people stopped the bad habit of breathing, so as long as we stop breathing, crime should go down immensely

Re:scaremongering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679763)

Insightful?! The guy hasn't got the most basic grasp on what this study is saying. Which is unlike water, breathing and carbohydrates, the level of candy (ie. sweets) consumption can predict who is, and who is not more likely to be a criminal in adulthood.

I know you wanted first post dude, but could you have put just a fraction of a second's thought together before jerking your knee about?

Re:scaremongering? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679981)

I wonder if countries are now going to criminalise the sale and perhaps possession of candy.

I mean, given that such flimsy evidence (or even none at all) is sufficient grounds to restrict or criminalise images, video and computer games, as well as demonising certain kinds of music, surely the pro-censorship crowd should be demanding outright bans of candy! As flimsy as this evidence is, it's more than good enough for their standards.

But of course, they won't - just as we don't get laws banning religion when someone who happens to be religious commits a crime. It's only the unpopular things in society that get banned by these arguments.

I just died a chocolately sweet death. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678655)

I read the article.

Absultely fucking useless.

No information on control. Awesome speculation on the five million ways they could interpret the data.

Why is this shit published?

Organic Food (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678661)

Surely a study like this is not funded by the organic food industry?

Re:Organic Food (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678689)

Surely a study like this is not funded by the organic food industry?

Organic food is much better than inorganic food.

Re:Organic Food (1)

paulatz (744216) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678705)

I love a bit of crystalline Oxygen di-hydrure in my cocktails

Re:Organic Food (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678729)

I don't know that water is considered food. Its more of a chemical we consume, like oxygen. And maybe calcium. Thinking about that because I've got a broken bone at the moment.

Re:Organic Food (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678795)

Oblig [dhmo.org]

Re:Organic Food (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679081)

Organic food is much better than inorganic food.

I guess so - but Candy?? In the BJPsy?? Over here we eat sweets! As far as I am concerned the whole premise is scuppered so the conclusions can go hang!

Re:Organic Food (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678741)

And your point is ... ?

Re:Organic Food (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679317)

Surely a study like this is not funded by the organic food industry?

Not that I've read TFA, but do you have any evidence to back that statement ?

Re:Organic Food (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679451)

Surely a study like this is not funded by the organic food industry?

Not sure why the organic food industry would have an interest in funding a study like this. Maybe you're assuming that organic!=junk food. This isn't the case, as there are plenty of companies producing organic junk food, such as chocolate, high fat ice cream and deep fried snacks like potato and corn chips. Consuming organic food doesn't guarantee a healthy diet, that's still up to the individual.

Sweeties! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678669)

A British study would be looking at the effect of *sweets* rather than *candy*.

Re:Sweeties! (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679171)

> A British study would be looking at the
> effect of *sweets* rather than *candy*.

What's the difference? I always thought they were the same thing.

Correlation? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678671)

So what kind of parents give their kids candy every day?

...waits for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678681)

correlationisnotcausation tag to appear.

Re:...waits for... (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679161)

Not just once either.

what's with / . (1)

xfea (219039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678683)

This 'news' is way old.....

NHS Explains (5, Informative)

JRiddell (216337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678697)

For an excellent overview of this story I recommend this critique of the paper [www.nhs.uk] from the English NHS's excellent Behind the Headlines [www.nhs.uk] service. Unlike a newspaper it will tell you who did the study, how it was funded, where the data came from and whether the results are worth anything. In this case the data was severaly limited and had put people into either "eating sweets every day" or "not eating sweets" which is very coarse categorising.It also doesn't report the absolute number of children who went on to become adult offenders. In conclusion

"Overall, this study on its own does not provide strong enough evidence to guide childhood dietary advice, although common sense says that eating too many sweets is probably not good for children. Before the newspapersâ(TM) explanation for a link can be believed there must be studies specifically designed to investigate the issue from the outset."

Re:NHS Explains (1)

franoreilly (109719) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678733)

This paper looks suspiciously like data-mining to find an hypothesis. It's based on a cohort study that was not specifically designed for finding a correlation of this type. For example, it did not find out what the family income was.

An alternative hypothesis might therefore be that the amount of sweets you eat at age 10 is a predictor of what socio-economic group you're in then.

Re:NHS Explains (1)

sdiz (224607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679217)

This paper looks suspiciously like data-mining to find an hypothesis. It's based on a cohort study that was not specifically designed for finding a correlation of this type.....

Read the NHS article: "....As it is designed prospectively, it also avoids the chance of reverse causation, i.e. the possibility that in some way violent offending might determine dietary habit. ..."

Re:NHS Explains (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678993)

..."eating sweets every day" or "not eating sweets" which is very coarse categorising.

This is often done to get a significant test result. A Chi2 correlation test will give different results depending on the "bin" sizes.

So you start with fine grained bins and then start pooling until you get a significant test. If you still don't get a significant result, try other tests that can be used. This of course creates massive problems for the validly of any "significant" result.

Re:NHS Explains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679075)

That was pretty scathing.

What surprises me is that social strata is seldom considered - to me it sounds more reasonable to link criminal behaviour with social background.

Re:NHS Explains (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679543)

Like the top people in Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, AIG, WaMu or Madoff :)

DAMN THOSE SOCIALISTS (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679269)

Hang on a second, are you seriously expecting Slashdots mainly american audience to read something by the socalist NHS? Quite clearly the reason for the NHS denying this study is that they WANT people to get ill to continue their socialist principles.

Next time you hear people decry the "socialist" NHS think on this report and ask how in the US medical system is focusing on prevention.

Re:DAMN THOSE SOCIALISTS (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679509)

The NHS knows candy sells and keeps UK candy workers running production lines 24/7.
The only "prevention" the "socialist" UK system as a whole is interested in is loss of tax income and loss of jobs.
More UK workers making cheap mind dumbing candy, more UK workers paying tax, more tax and the NHS budget grows.
A "safe" candy scare is not good. The cost of looking after a few offenders in their 20-40's vs a shake up to real taxes?
Unless you have flipper babies again, an MP tests for plastic/heavy metals, the NHS will side with UK tax revenue stream ie candy is safe.

Re:NHS Explains (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679507)

Hmmm, false dichotomy, good times. Since "candy" is street slang for smack in some parts, it really doesn't surprise me that being fed it since age 5 leads to psychotic behavior.

candy? in britain? soon it'll be freedom fries (4, Informative)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678699)

I very much doubt any British study would have looked at candy consumption as that's not a word in common usage over here.

Re:candy? in britain? soon it'll be freedom fries (2, Interesting)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678963)

So what is the term used? Sweets?

Re:candy? in britain? soon it'll be freedom fries (2, Interesting)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679055)

Yes.

The other way to see it (1, Insightful)

fluch (126140) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678719)

Criminals which have been eating candies when they were 10 are dump at the age of 34. The criminals which did not eat candies at the age of 10 are less likely to be caught.

And if I see again this: "Thirty-five of those children went on to report at age 34 that they'd been convicted of a violent crime, the researchers found." .... they make a statistical statement about a sample of 35! Gosh! The study is not worth even a single penny (nor a candy)!

Re:The other way to see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679613)

Exactly. And how on earth do you "correct for parenting style"? Out of a sample of 35? Jeez.....

really? (2, Insightful)

GAB_cyclist (1274556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678791)

The researchers theorize the correlation comes from the way candy is given rather than the candy itself. Candy frequently given as a short-term reward can encourage impulsive behavior, which can more likely lead to violence So bad parenting is the cause of criminal behaviour? Who would have thought...

I don't like the result (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678793)

And correlation is never causation when I don't like the result.

Conversely correlation is always causation when I like the result.

Re:I don't like the result (1)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679321)

I'd like to see a study of correlationisnotcausation tags in /. articles, especially for filesharing/torrents and for other behaviors we like, but are said to be good/bad for us.

even on this discussion there are at least 4 statements I read along the lines 'I don't think this study can be true, because I feel *.'

It is the parents... (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678801)

Parents who regularly give their kids candy usually are the sort of parents who aren't disciplining their kids. Candy is often used by such people as a replacement for parental authority in controlling their kids' behavior.

Re:It is the parents... (1)

Kreeben (995363) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679107)

You are joking of course :) Then again, if you are not, I would love to see how you substantiate the two claims you make.

Re:It is the parents... (1)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679453)

He might be joking, but the study was conducted here in Britain, and the parents that i've met here are terrible. nursery as a way of getting rid of the child for a while, 'playfarms' so that the children can leave the parents alone to have a smoke, people pushing the pram and fucking swearing every second fucking word, going for a bath and leaving a 3 yr old to his own devices for the afternoon, I saw a child half out of a second floor window on my road, and I didn't see a parent pick him up and take him to safety, oh no, I heard a shout of "get the fuck away from there".

I've only been in england since january, too.

These are all just personal observations, btw, not flaming, but the people i've seen need to take the responsibility of having children more seriously.

Re:It is the parents... (3, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679191)

> Candy is often used by such people as a replacement for
> parental authority in controlling their kids' behavior.

Actually, it can be even worse than that.

There are parents out there who make absolutely no attempt whatsoever to control their kids' behavior or teach them *anything*, at all, ever. They let them eat quite literally whatever they want, which generally does not result in anything you could describe as a healthy diet. And they let them *do* whatever they want, which doesn't necessarily result in the most upright law-abiding citizens possible.

Re:It is the parents... or is it the dentists? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679857)

too many sweets leads to tooth decay - which would require more visits to the dentist. Maybe it's this which leads to increased levels of violence?

It seems to me there are too many uncontrolled (and probably even more unknown) variables for any meaningful conclusions to come from this. The biggest thing that's missing from all these social science studies is any sort of objective or quanitfiable units of measurement. Until they can all agree on HOW violent, in standardised units, there's nothing worth discussing here.

Correlation does not imply causality (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29678811)

When will people finally learn? Studies like that are just stupid. Absolutely nothing was shown here.

Simple explanation (just an example of cause):
Less educated families tend to give their children more sweets. Lack of education is responsible for criminal activities (causality assumed for this example). In such a scenario there would of cause be a correlation between sweets and crime but obviously no causality.

My take on the thing: (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678833)

If you eat candy as a replacement for love, you are more likely to be violent because of a lack of love.

Just a theory. And one way of many. But I've seen it too often, that a addiction, being itself a replacement for something else you need, does mean that when you don't get it, you become desperate and do things that you normally would not do. Not specifically violence. More like when you destroy everything around you because you can't stand the situation. (Similar to rage.)

We should be clear about those two things:
1. Candy is a likely candidate for addictions.
2. Addictions always are a replacement for a lack of something else.
So find that something else, and help the person get that stuff so much, that they forget the addiction because they don't need it anymore.

For children, this usually is the lack of good parents.
(I said for a long time, that social and parenting skills must be an essential skill you learn in a class in school! [Which for the second generation will mean that they also learn it from their now capable parents at home.])

Re:My take on the thing: (2, Funny)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678905)

If you eat candy as a replacement for love

Who would eat candy as a replacement for love? That's what the television is for!

Re:My take on the thing: (1)

bpsbr_ernie (1121681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679379)

Nothing replaces chocolate..

Class? (-1, Flamebait)

Peregr1n (904456) | more than 4 years ago | (#29678929)

I don't know how relevant this theory would be to America (I know class boundaries are not as evident as in the UK), but here the most obvious cause of this evidence would be class lifestyles. Poor, lower class, under-educated children are more susceptible to criminal influences; while well-educated middle class parents are more likely to obsess over their children's diets. As goes the popular tag, correlation is not causation. You could equally theorise that wearing trainers cause crime, as children who wear Nike trainers are more likely to offend than children who wear Hush Puppies shoes.

Re:Class? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679265)

I don't know how relevant this theory would be to America (I know class boundaries are not as evident as in the UK)

You know, do you?

just like video games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679007)

anything can be shown as a link to violence...

breathing, eating, reading the newspaper, watching tv...

Full text behind paywall?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679069)

I went here [rcpsych.org] and I could see the text without issues...

Childhood factors that influence the expression of violence in adulthood are numerous and include economic, ecological and individual factors (such as personality traits).1 Diet has been causally associated with population mortality rates, neurocognitive deficits, disruptive behaviour, antisocial and aggressive behaviour, and offending behaviour in a prison population.2â"5 Furthermore, decision biases, such that rewards are subjectively overweighted and punishment underweighted, are associated with delinquency.6 Confectionery (sweets/chocolates), often used as a quick reward for children, has also received attention,3,7 although studies have mostly focused on the short-term effects of diet on behaviour: the long-term effects have yet to be determined. The objective of our study was to extend what is currently known about childhood risk factors for violence by also considering the role of confectionery. We hypothesise that excessive confectionery consumption increases the likelihood of violence in adulthood.

Method

Our analysis included data on the births and families of babies (respondents, hereafter) born in the UK in one particular week (n = 17 415) derived from the British Cohort Study which began in 1970. Information was requested on all babies born (alive or dead) after the 24th week of gestation from 00:01 on Sunday 5th April to 24:00 on Saturday 11th April 1970. It is estimated that not more than 5% and not less than 2% of all births were missed. Since 1970 there have been seven data collections designed to monitor respondentsâ(TM) health, education, social and economic circumstances. These additional waves took place when respondents were aged 5, 10, 16, 26, 30, 34 and 42 years. We used data from the age 10 wave when respondents were asked how frequently they consumed confectionery, and the age 34 wave, when self-report violent offending data and additional information on socioeconomic status were collected. Additional data were taken from the age 5 wave that characterised respondentsâ(TM) early development, including parenting style. Respondents were coded positive for perpetration of violence (violence, hereafter) if the most recent offence, between the age 30 and age 34 surveys, for which they were found guilty involved violence. Violence data were collected using a reliable self-report computer-assisted interview methodology.8 Confectionery consumption was reduced to a binary variable (every day = 1, less often or never = 0) owing to small numbers in the violence variable. To check the robustness of estimates we regressed confectionery consumption onto violence and then incrementally added control variables. With no substantial change in either the sign or significance of the effect of eating confectionery, we then sought the most parsimonious model by removing control variables that yielded no significant association. Numerous control variables were entered into initial models, including information on: the childâ(TM)s behaviour at home at age 5 years and maternal circumstances based on the Rutter A Scale of behavioural deviance (completed by a parent, usually the mother, and designed to measure behaviour-adjustment problems) and the Malaise Inventory (a 24-item self-completion scale designed to assess psychiatric morbidity);9 aggression and impulsivity at age 10 years, assessed by the childâ(TM)s class teacher; mental ability at age 5 years, derived from figure drawing and vocabulary tests, reduced to a single mental ability score using a procedure described by Batty10 and validated against a health visitorâ(TM)s subjective assessment of ability. Forty-three questions were used to assess parental attitudes in the age 5 wave and iterated principal factor analysis with an oblique rotation method11 (Kaiserâ"Meyerâ"Olkin measure of sampling adequacy 0.88) yielded three factors: an authoritarian attitude to parenting, mothersâ(TM) perceptions of their rights, and a parenting style that is more liberal and affords children greater freedom. Across all models the association between eating confectionery daily remained statistically significant. As the binary outcome variable, violence, is a rare event (0.47%) and the statistical analysis of rare events (55%) presents problems, particularly for logistic models,12 a rare event logistic model12 with cluster correction on government office region was the preferred analytic strategy.

Results
Overall, 69% of respondents who were violent by the age of 34 years reported that they ate confectionery nearly every day during childhood, compared with 42% who were non-violent. Table 1 presents statistics from the final regression model. Tests for collinearity in independent variables yielded variance inflation factors less than 1.05. Spearman correlation coefficients suggested weak (r50.1 and P50.001 for each comparison) positive associations between being male and not having educational qualifications after the age of 16; eating confectionery daily and being male; access to motorised transport at the age of 34 and being male; parentsâ(TM) attitudes towards parenting and eating confectionery daily; access to motorised transport at 34 years; and living in a rural area at age 34 years. Weak negative associations between living in a rural area at age 34 years and eating confectionery daily (r =70.06), and parentsâ(TM) attitudes towards parenting and access to motorised transport at age 34 years (r =70.03) were also observed. Marginally more substantial associations were observed between not having educational qualifications after the age of 16 and eating confectionery daily (r = 0.11), and parentsâ(TM) attitudes towards parenting and not having educational qualifications after the age of 16 (r = 0.12). The rare events logistic regression model (Table 1) yielded a significant relationship between eating confectionery at age 10 years and violence at age 34 years. This association was consistent across all models where ecological, childhood and other controls were included. Other significant relationships between control variables and violence included a childâ(TM)s gender and parentsâ(TM) attitudes towards parenting. Health visitor screening during childhood protected against adult violence. Having access to motorised transport at age 34 years protected against adult violence, whereas living in a rural area at age 34 years increased the risk of violence. Attrition and non-response bias mean that the data available for analysis may not be characteristic of the larger population, which might affect our conclusions.

Discussion

Analysis of the British Cohort Study has the advantage of a large sample size and the opportunity to control for numerous potential confounds. However, as a general population cohort study it was not designed to specifically examine the nature of diet and how it might be related to behaviour in the long-term. Exogeneity, whereby a third unmeasured variable promotes both dietary choice and violence across the lifespan (e.g. a genetic factor), is unlikely because dietary choices for 10-year-olds are primarily governed by their immediate circumstances, in particular their parents and primary carers, and these factors are already accounted for in the model presented here. Moreover, self-report data provide an accurate source of behavioural information8 and having controlled for numerous control variables suggest that the relationship between confectionery consumption and violence is both novel and robust. Candidate mechanisms linking confectionery consumption to adult violence must account for enduring changes into adulthood. One plausible mechanism is that persistently using confectionery to control childhood behaviour might prevent children from learning to defer gratification, in turn biasing decision processes towards more impulsive behaviour, biases that are strongly associated with delinquency.6 Furthermore, childhood confectionery consumption may nurture a taste that is maintained into adulthood, exposing adults to the effects of additives often found in sweetened food,3 the consumption of which may also contribute towards adult aggression. Moreover, although parental attitudes were associated with adult violence, the effect of diet was robust having controlled for these attitudinal variables. Irrespective of the causal mechanism, which warrants further attention, targeting resources at improving childhood diet may improve health and reduce aggression.

Coming soon to a courtroom near you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679129)

Jack Thompson takes on Willy Wonka!
Also available on Pay-Per-View.

Revised Headline (5, Insightful)

JayGuerette (457133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679133)

Children of parents who encourage poor & impulsive choices grow up to make poor & impulsive choices.

new generation (1)

palmerj3 (900866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679149)

If that is true, which I firmly believe it is since I read it on the Internet, then the Baby Boomers may be succeeded by the Baby Killers..

Try the expt. yourself (2, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679163)

With halloween coming up, just try refusing to give sweets (american translation: candy) to the little beggars that come calling. See if those who don't get given sweets are more or less violent than those who do.

Statistically demonstrable != sensible

Diet? Really? (5, Insightful)

Benjo (644811) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679225)

Isn't it very possible the a persons diet when they're 10 is likely to be an indicator of their parents conscientiousness. If you accept that to be true then all this study really shows is that people with conscientious parents are less likely to be violent criminals. And I think most people would regard that as a no brainer....

Easy. Ban Candy... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679309)

If Candy's violent, ban the bitch. Hell put her in jail if you have to. Just leave my sweets alone you motherfuckers.

They'll be screaming bloody murder... (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679337)

Annnnd how long until this story has been grossly misinterpreted by the media? Pretty soon we're going to hear, "candy is THE CAUSE of violence. Ban it! Ban it!"

Re:They'll be screaming bloody murder... (0)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679483)

Think of the children! Won't somebody pleeeeeease think of the CHILDREN!!!

Whoa Whoa Whoa (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679619)

How old is this researcher? Come on. It's not the drug, it's the pusher. If you tell a child a carrot is candy, they you reward him with a carrot when the child behaves, then you've just made vegetables the new cause for violent behavior. I call shennigans on this study.

American Dental Association (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29679635)

Sounds more like the ADA is taking a new strategy to stem candy consumption. What will they think up for dental floss usage?

Another bah study. (1)

Veretax (872660) | more than 4 years ago | (#29679687)

You could just as easily say that those who commit acts of violence like candy, but the reverse does not necessarily true. I mean C'mon KIDS love candy.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...