Dec 132011

We are all aware of the costs to our community from violence and aggression.  Or are we?

Most of the conversation on violence focuses solely on cognitive aspects of aggression.  This most commonly arises from our desire to hold people responsible for their actions.  Indeed our entire criminal justice system is built on the principle of responsibility for our actions.

Every person chooses their own behaviour and must be held accountable for that behaviour.  No exceptions!

Or are there.

Modern research into nutrition is increasingly showing cognitive and behavioural impacts of sub-clinical nutrient deficiencies 1,2,3,.

Big words I know, but what do they mean

Effectively it means that any person who has a nutritional deficiency in certain nutrients is going to have difficulties making responsible choices.

These symptoms range from irritability, difficulty learning, anxiety, depression, impulse control and a number of other cognitive dysfunctions.  In fact one of the worst outcomes seems to be from a high sugar diet 4.

What does this mean for us?  We need to start having Nutritionists, particularly public health and behavioural nutritionists involved in the development of crime and violence prevention policies.  We also need to get Crime prevention involved in discussions about food policy particularly in our schools.

  1. Food and Behaviour Research: Zaalberg et al 2010 – Effects of nutritional supplements on aggression, rule-breaking, and psychopathology among young adult prisoners. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2011, from
  2. Jianghong Liu, Ph.D.; Adrian Raine, D.Phil.; Peter H. Venables, Ph.D., D.Sc.; Sarnoff A. Mednick, Ph.D., D.Med. (n.d.). Malnutrition at Age 3 Years and Externalizing Behavior Problems at Ages 8, 11, and 17 Years. Am J Psychiatry 2004;161:2005-2013, (161), 2005-2013.
  3. Webach, Melvyn. (n.d.). Nutritional Influences on Aggressive Behavior. Retrieved November 29, 2011, from
  4. Schoenthaler, Stephen J. (n.d.). Diet and crime: An empirical examination of the value of nutrition in the control and treatment of incarcerated juvenile offenders. APA PsycNET. Retrieved December 5, 2011, from