Is it TV that causes criminal behavior in children (or is it what they eat in front of it)?

The debate over whether watching crime shows on TV instigates crime will probably never end. Supporters of this theory hold that impressionable youths copy behaviors they see on TV.

An article recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggests that the link between TV and crime may have a different cause: junk food. Yes, because as it turns out children who watch a lot of TV also consume vastly more junk food than their peers, possibly because of ads they see or maybe just because they just sit around all the time.

Is this just a wild theory designed for the joy and comfort of nutritionists like myself? Not so, at least if you pay any attention to the dozens of studies that link junk food diets with violent and antisocial behaviors.

In one of the studies researchers looked at jailed chronic offenders aged 13 to 17. After analyzing their diets researchers found that they consumed on average 63% of the iron, 42% of the magnesium, 39% of the zinc, 39% of the vitamin B12, and 34% of the folic acid recommended by the US government.

The researchers then gave half the subjects a supplement containing the vitamins and minerals they were missing and the other half a placebo. They also counseled all the all the youths about the importance of healthy diet and then made healthier meals available to all.

Sure enough, all those who heeded the advice and changed their diets experienced a drop in violent episodes. Those who changed their diets while receiving a placebo experienced a 50% drop – which seems pretty amazing to me – but the ones who were given the vitamin and mineral supplement in addition to changing their diets experienced an 80% drop in violent events. Of course no change was observed among inmates who did not change their diets.

Not only did the number of violent incidents drop, researchers also recorded brainwave patterns through EEG and found marked improvements after 13 weeks on supplements.

Read more about this at:,,1765619,00.html and at (scroll down to “Feeding Crime”).

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