Prison food

An article in The Economist talks about an experiment in which inmates in a british prison were given extra vitamins, minerals and fatty oils.

Bernard Gesch, a researcher at Oxford University, wanted to see if bringing inmates’ consumption of various vitamins, minerals and fatty acids (the stuff found in fish oil) up to recommended daily levels would affect their behaviour…

Half of the offenders received daily nutritional supplements, and the rest placebo pills. The two groups included a comparable mix of anxious, depressed and aggressive individuals. Their antisocial antics?ranging from violent assaults to swearing at the guards?were recorded before and during the experiment.

The results, published in the July issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, are striking. Those on supplements committed 25% fewer offences than those taking placebos. Moreover, with at least two weeks’ ?treatment?, inmates receiving supplements committed 35% fewer offences than before starting the trial, compared with a 7% reduction in those taking placebos.

Well, duh! Of course it matters what you eat. Of course you get cranky if your body isn’t functioning optimally, because your diet is wrong.

I had the pleasure of visiting Denmarks biggest prison a few months ago to talk about happiness at work with the prison guards, and I saw the food they served there: Awful! We’re talking old school, meat and gravy style food for both the prisoners and the guards. I’m certain that the conditions could be improved all around with something as simple as better food.

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