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Diet, Crime and Delinquency

NCJ Number
A Schauss
Date Published
118 pages
Using case histories and citations from research literature, this book argues that diet is related to juvenile delinquency as well as to adult criminal behavior.
Efforts to prevent crime and delinquency have focused almost exclusively on psychological and socioeconomic factors. Criminologists have largely ignored disturbed biochemical functioning as a possible cause of criminal behavior. Like alcohol or drugs, ordinary foods or the lack of them can alter the mind and unleash criminal behavior. Sugar starvation, vitamin deficiencies, lead pollution, food additives, and food allergies can convert a normal brain into a criminal mind. Numerous case histories illustrate the link between diet and such behavior problems as hyperactivity in children. Recent prison experiences have shown that dietary change or nutrition education programs have successfully reduced disciplinary problems and improved morale. Studies of alcohol abusers and heroin addicts have shown a connection between poor eating habits and psychological problems. Diets of substance abusers, hyperactive children, and others are characterized by high intake of sugar, processed and refined foods, and junk foods. Exercise has also been shown to improve mental attitudes and behavior. Moreover, light and color affect nutrition and behavior. Thus, a substantial body of evidence indicates that diet, toxic metals, food additives, insufficient nutrients, food allergy, lack of exercise, and malillumination can all contribute to criminal behavior. Evidence is mounting that a good diet makes a positive difference when working with some offenders. The book recommends that, in all criminal cases, the offender's diet and metabolism should be examined before treatment is chosen, particularly for juvenile first offenders. Figures, a table, chapter reference lists and bibliographies, an index, and appendixes presenting the Nutrition Behavior Inventory and comparative nutritional intakes for 22 juvenile offenders and 22 controls are included.