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January 2023
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Candy in Childhood, Violence in Adulthood?

British Study Suggests Violent Adults Were “Sweet” Children

British study suggests that people who ate lots of candy in childhood may turn violent in adulthood.

British study suggests that people who ate lots of candy in childhood may turn violent in adulthood.

Like peanut butter and jelly, candy and Halloween just go together.  Survey data shows that nearly 75 percent of Americans celebrating Halloween do it by handing out candy to trick-or-treaters; the average home spends $65 on candy for Halloween; the majority of the candy eaten in the country is eaten on or immediately following Halloween; and the average person eats 24 pounds of candy in a given year—most of it on Halloween!

Frightening numbers, no?

Besides the obvious nutrition and cavity problems candies cause for the average kid, it may also affect their social health in adulthood.

It sounds crazy, but get a load of this:  Candy-crazed kids are more likely to turn violent come adulthood, according to a study published in the October issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Now, as you might imagine, knowing how much candy kids are eating throughout their young life requires a lot of in-depth, detailed information, and researchers from Cardiff University were able to get this information thanks to 17,000 men and women that participated in what was called the British Cohort Study in 1970.  All of the subjects were born in the same week of April 1970.

The detailed Cohort Study tracked their health and lifestyle habits up to and including their 30th year, including whether or not they had been arrested.

This is where researchers found the link:  According to their findings, just under 70 percent of the people that were arrested and convicted for a violent crime ate candy nearly every day when they were 10 years old.  Among those never arrested for a violent crime, 40 percent ate candy regularly at age 10.

Now, does a finding like this guarantee that your candy-crazed child will lash out violently when they reach their thirties?  Obviously, the answer to that is no.

As I’ve said in the past—and as the researchers themselves say—correlation does not imply causation.  No one can prove that candy causes violence, certainly not a study that didn’t take into account whether the 17,000 kids grew up in a violent home (as this study failed to do).  The link may be more due to a child not learning how to cope with internal or external struggles at a young age, and their candy cravings was just a symptom of that.

At the very least, though, this study gives further credence to the inverse of what this study found:  Better nutrition leads to better behavior.  And that’s really the main thing to take away from all of this.  Not that candy’s necessarily the enemy, but that quality nutrition is our friend.  That really needs to be emphasized in children’s lives, especially in the aftermath of a candy binge.

Should your child go on such a binge, it’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t preordain them to joining a fight club in their twenties.  But you should consider a “candy detox,” of sorts.

This is where their diets are a bit “cleaner” than usual, where there’s a greater emphasis on exercise, a greater emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, and a greater emphasis on avoiding refined sugars.

You basically want to make it crystal clear that candy is a once-in-a-while thing, and not something that should be eaten every day.  Habits are easy to form, especially at young ages.  The younger they are when they form, the harder they are to break as they grow older.


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