Children who eat sweets and chocolate every day are more likely to be violent as adults, according to new research.
The Cardiff university team studied almost 17,500 participants people is the first into effects of childhood diet on adult violence.
The study found that 10-year-olds who ate sweets daily were significantly more likely to have violence convictions by the age of 34.
Researchers suggested they had not learnt to delay gratification, but other experts said already ‘difficult’ children might be given more sweets.
The study, published in the October issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, is the first to examine the long-term effects of childhood diet on adult violence.
The researchers found that 69% of the participants who were violent at the age of 34 had eaten sweets and chocolate nearly every day during childhood, compared to 42% who were non-violent.
This link between confectionary consumption and violence remained after controlling for other factors.
The researchers put forward several explanations for the link.
Lead researcher Dr Simon Moore, from Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry, said: ‘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.’
The researchers concluded: ‘This association between confectionary consumption and violence needs further attention. Targeting resources at improving children’s diet may improve health and reduce aggression.’