If your parents were stingy on the sweets when you were a child, they might have been doing you a favor beyond nutrition: contributing to your psychological stability. A new study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (as cited in eScienceNews) indicates that subjects whose daily consumption of chocolate (and other sweets) at age 10 were “significantly more likely to have been convicted for violence at age 34.”
The previous news on chocolate celebrated its redeeming nutritional value: flavonoids and antioxidants
that keep blood pressure low and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, and Japanese researchers
have even indicated that parts of the cocoa bean might help thwart mouth bacteria and stop dental decay. But thanks to this late-breaking study, precocious, Internet-savvy children who might have hoped that chocolate’s nutritional value might prove a persuasive argument when dealing with sweet-stingy parents are in for a disappointment:
Researchers from Cardiff University found that 69 percent of the participants who were violent at the age of 34 had eaten sweets and chocolate nearly every day during childhood, compared to 42 percent who were nonviolent.
According to the study, this latest link may not be as nutritional in orientation as it is psychological: if chocolate is the object of desire for a child, and parents give in easily, it teaches the child that things will come to them easily. Then, when future situations or people thwart the child’s attempts to get what he or she wants, it can lead to impatience, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and eventually, delinquency and violence.
Lead researcher Dr. Simon Moore said (quoted in eScienceNews):
"Our favoured explanation is that giving children sweets and chocolate regularly may stop them learning how to wait to obtain something they want. Not being able to defer gratification may push them towards more impulsive behaviour, which is strongly associated with delinquency."
Were you a child with a sweet tooth? No need to panic … at least, not yet. The researchers are still investigating the “association between confectionary consumption and violence.” Their interim solution is to designate resources for improving children's diet in the hope that this “may improve health and reduce aggression."