Related research shows that those outside prison walls also benefit from a better diet.
In a study of prison inmates, a physiologist at Oxford University investigated the effects of nutritional supplements on behavior. Half of the 230 British inmates received multivitamin, mineral and fatty-acid supplements while the other half received placebo. Here's what the study found;
- Minor prison rule infractions dropped by 26 percent in the group taking supplements. The placebo group's behavior did not change.
- Violent incedences dropped by 37 percent in the group taking supplements. The placebo group's behavior did not change.
Researchers in the Netherlands conducted a similar study and found similar results. Of the 221 inmates who participated in the Dutch study, 116 were given multivitamin, mineral and fatty-acid supplements and the remaining 105 inmates received placebos.
Reports of violence and aggression dropped by 34 percent in the group taking supplements. Reports of violence and aggression actually increased 13 percent in the placebo group.
Researchers are quick to emphasize that poor nutrition is not the only cause of antisocial behavior. Researchers are just as quick to emphasize that there is no down side to an improved diet. And for the prison population, better nutrition is a cost-effective way to address violence and aggression among inmates.
If supplements benefit the prison population, supplements should also work in the population are large as well. Right? (The answer is "yes")
Another Oxford University physiologist took this diet and behavior test to 12 primary schools in northeastern England. This study examined 117 underachieving children between the ages of 5 and 12. Half of the children in this study received an omega-3 supplement for three months. The other half received a placebo made of olive oil.
Researchers found that the group that received omega-3 supplements did substantially better at school than those in the control group. The omega-3 group performed twice as well as expected in spelling. The placebo group, instead of improving, continued to fall behind.
Again, researchers were quick to emphasize that poor nutrition is not the only cause of underachieving school behavior and were just as quick to emphasize that an improved diet can only help.
Based on this and other research, the World Health Organization last year reported: "Certain dietary choices, including fish consumption, balanced intake of micronutrients and a good nutritional status overall, also have been associated with reduced rates of violent behaviour."