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Take your vitamins

The BBC reported last week that improving criminal offenders' diets can, um, take a bite out of crime (as it were). A study by an Oxford researcher, Bernard Gesch, found that prisoners who received supplements of certain vitamins, minerals and fatty acids committed 25 percent fewer infractions than prisoners receiving placebos. (The story was also reported in a premium-content article in the Economist (requires subscription).)

But the interesting question, I think, isn't just how diet affects potential crime-committers, but how it affects anyone. While athletes (and now prisoners) have made a science of optimizing their diet for particular levels of performance, the rest of us are left to rely on little more than the food pyramid.

I am quite sure, however, that my own diet dramatically affects my productivity on a daily basis, even when I'm not very active physically. I generally eat well, at least as far as avoiding junk and fast foods, but inevitably succumb to laziness when preparing certain meals for myself (especially lunch, which, as any unemployed person will tell you, inexorably slides into dinner if you're not careful). Which makes it all the more apparent to me how much better — and more motivated — I feel when I eat more of the right kinds of foods.

This isn't surprising, at all. But it's something I've never actually been told; growing up I learned that your diet impacts your ability to run around and jump up and down, but not that, just by eating well, you can make yourself feel good (or at least better). And that, of course, impacts your ability to succeed at more in life than just recess.

July 2, 2002 12:51 PM


I've often noted that friends/co-workers who gleefully and/or forgetfully neglect to eat often have less-than-good reasoning skills, over all.

Not that skipping a meal today will change how i analyze this or that in a few hours; It's more of an accumulative (like, over several days) change.


Posted by rob adams on July 2, 2002 3:02 PM

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