Childhood hunger linked to violent behavior later in life

New research from the University of Texas shows that children who often go hungry have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence.

Dr. Alex Piquero with University of Texas.

Dr. Alex Piquero with University of Texas.

Those who experienced frequent hunger as kids were more than twice as likely to exhibit impulsivity and injure others intentionally as adolescents and adults, according to the study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The findings were strongest among whites, Hispanics and males.

Many other studies link food insecurity to other adverse outcomes, like poor academic performance and of course health issues. But this is the first to connect it to violent behavior. It simply makes ending the reality of poor access to healthy foods – and enough of it – to all kids an imperative.

“Good nutrition is not only critical for academic success, but now we’re showing that it links to behavioral patterns. When kids start to fail in school, they start to fail in other domains of life,” said Dr. Alex Piquero, a professor of criminology at the University of Texas.

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