Food and Behaviour Research

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Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners. Randomised, placebo-controlled trial.

Gesch, C.B., Hammond, S.M., Hampson, S.E., Eves, A., Crowder, M.J. (2002) British Journal of Psychiatry 181 22-8. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here. Free full text of this article is available online.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: There is evidence that offenders consume diets lacking in essential nutrients and this could adversely affect their behaviour.

AIMS: To test empirically if physiologically adequate intakes of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids cause a reduction in antisocial behaviour.

METHOD: Experimental, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial of nutritional supplements on 231 young adult prisoners, comparing disciplinary offences before and during supplementation.

RESULTS: Compared with placebos, those receiving the active capsules committed an average of 26.3% (95% CI 8.3-44.33%) fewer offences (P=0.03, two-tailed). Compared to baseline, the effect on those taking active supplements for a minimum of 2 weeks (n=172) was an average 35.1% (95% CI 16.3-53.9%) reduction of offences (P

CONCLUSIONS: Antisocial behaviour in prisons, including violence, are reduced by vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids with similar implications for those eating poor diets in the community.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

This study shows striking effects of dietary supplementation in reducing antisocial behaviour by young offenders.
Its importance is difficult to overstate, although the findings clearly need replication.

The active supplements used provided a wide range of vitamins and minerals (at no more than recommended daily intake levels), as well as omega-3 and omega-6 'essential fatty acids' from fish oil and evening primrose oil.


Update February 2010. Similar results have been reported by scientists at the Dutch Ministry of Justice. See:

  • Omega-3, vitamins, minerals may reduce aggressive behaviour