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Monday, October 5, 2009

Is there something to "The Twinkie Defense" after all?

First of all, I'm assuming we all know what's meant by "The Twinkie Defense" [if unaware, please click on the hyperlink; it not only explains the term, it debunks the myth that it was successfully used in the case that first brought the term to national attention].


Anyway, the Twinkie Defense [hereafter TD] is based on the theory that too much processed foods, especially sugar, can cloud your mind, rendering it incapable of rational thought. Although thoroughly discredited in the Dan White prosecution, Science may have just jumped the gun on its conclusions.

A study in Britain has thrown out the proposition that giving children too many treats may turn them into violent adults. We're not talking about the children being violently ill from a less-than-nutritious diet; this is the kind of acting-out violence most demonstrated in the UK by their beloved soccer hooligans. Well, at least most of them can sing...


Actually, this theorem seems to have a healthy dose of evidence behind it. Senior lecturer Simon Moore discovered, while doing research on violent British children, that kids who were most likely to committ violent crimes as adults had the worst diets in childhood.

Moore took his research a step further, using the results of a massive study of English people born during a certain week in 1970. By chance, the survey asked the subjects at the age of ten if they ate candy daily; at age 34, they were asked if had ever been convicted of a crime. A stunning 69 percent of regular candy-eaters had at least one conviction by age 34, versus 42% results from those who weren't. Next, Moore eliminated various factors: parenting styles, financial levels, even location [urban/rural]. The numbers remained steady.
Simon Moore says there are several possible reasons for his results, and that all should be looked into:
- are there certain compounds in sweets that cause this behavior? Well, perhaps. A further question would be "were candy manufacturers aware of this, and hid the information?" If so, shouldn't someone sieze Willy Wonka's passport, post haste? [If there's a bigger flight risk than him, I'd like to meet 'em]


- is excessive candy eating an indicator of possible future problems? For what it's worth, Moore leans towards this theorem; he believes that kids who got daily treats may not develop the patience needed to delay gratification [see A Clockwork Orange. But not on a full stomach]. This, the theory goes, leads to impulsiveness [a key factor in violent acts, according to Moore]. Another possibility suggested by this, says Moore, is that evil children get more candy, just to keep them calm. And are you keeping your porch light on this Halloween? They can't all move out of state...


- were British children born that week just more toxic than the usual run?

Always a possibility. Never eliminate random chance from the Human Equation.


- is this true only in England? Combine the American obesity epidemic with the increase in violent acts. Then do the math...


-are there any solutions? Four words: A Generation Of Supernannies [in whatever language is required]!


- Mike Riley

4 comments:

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