Nutrition and Genetics
Name: Bobby Joe
Every time we hear about kids killing kids. The question
comes up What (were/are) they thinking?
Is there a bio-chemical/nutritional connection in their cognitive
processes? Is it cumulative over the last 100 years?
Can the addition of food preservatives over the last 100 years effect the
genetic cognitive abilities we now see in the general population? Have
the nutritional (vitamins,minerals,
aminoacids+++) values, declined in the foods we consume, also have a
cumulative effect on the genetic cognitive abilities.
Finaly can both the preservatives and declining nutritional food values
work together in effecting genetic changes in healthy cognitive.
The U.S. food supply now has the highest safety and quality it has ever had.
However, people do not always choose to eat the most nutritious foods
I greatly doubt that schoolhouse murderers are genetically or neurologically
deranged. The DO tend to be outcasts. Perhaps it would be more fruitful
for us to examine the social environments of our schools to learn why some
students are so marginalized that they can see no better course of action
than to attack their peers and supervisors.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
Mineral depletion of soil is mostly a problem for the farmer, not the eater.
If plants don't have the minerals they need, they won't grow well. If the
soil in a banana plantation lacks potassium, the trees will make fewer
bananas. But if you eat one of the bananas that manages to grow, it will
still be a good source of potassium.
Are antisocial kids malnourished? I can't disprove it, as I have no data.
But I strongly suspect that the problem lies elsewhere.
If you think that schoolhouse violence is a uniquely modern phenomenon, you
may want to re-read the first chapter of Laura Ingalls Wilder's children's
book _Farmer Boy_.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
This is a difficult question.
I am not a food specialist, neither an
antropogeneticist, but my first thought when reading
your question was: this is Lamarckism.
Lamarck was an 18th Century biologist who believed
genetic properties could be gained and selected for
during life of a single organism and passed on to its
offspring. His theory was later misinterpreted to this
simplified view: a father who lost a leg in an
accident would have the risk of having a child with
only one leg.
Our current understanding of genetics clearly no
longer allows for Lamarckistic explanations. Having
said that, we know that genetic content is not static,
it is sensitive to mutations and mutations can
accumulate. Furthermore, mutations can be induced by
influences from the environment. Radiation is a clear
example, but mutagenic/teratogenic toxins that affect
the DNA of egg/sperm cells also exist. Then the
question is: could certain food additives be
mutagenic? and, would these mutations be accumulating
in our population? And would these result in violent
Altogether this scenario seems highly unlikely. If
food additives were mutagenic it would have been
detected in tests determining the daily allowed
maximum dosis. Lack of vitamins is not a modern
problem, in contrast, our diet is rich in comparison
to the past. It is unlikely that in the hundred
thousands of years of human mankind the diet has
always been as rich in vitamins and minerals as it is
Let's assume multiple mutations are required for
violence. Accumulations of mutations leading to a
specific characteristic can only happen if there would
be a positive selection and we don't select for
violent kids. Even if there was a mutational effect of
modern-day food or life-style, these mutations would
be random, not leading to one single characteristic.
There have been suggestions how food additives could
affect children's behavior, e.g. ADHD syndrome, and
this could potentially result in increased violence.
However, there is little evidence that genetic defects
or mutations are involved in this, and certainly no
evidence that mutations would be caused by foods or
food additives directly.
As a mother I'd like to add that children are born
uncivilized, primitive, and cruel. It is the
responsability of a balanced upbringing and education
to temper this. With balanced I mean not only to
suppress negative behavior, but also stimulate
positive feelings (self-esteem, responsability, etc.).
My view is that juvenile violence is a social problem,
not a biochemical one. And here's another factor: 200
years ago a violent kid could knife maybe 1 or two
victims before being stopped. Now a (machine) gun can
kill tens in seconds. And we hear about these things
where ever they occur. That explanains the increase in
killed victims, and the increase of our awareness of
Finally the public interest and 'press factor'
adds to the 'thrill' of imitation for children who
have not yet grown into balanced adults who restrict
themselves to proper behavior.
Dr. Trudy Wassenaar
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Update: June 2012