Children who often go hungry are more than twice as likely to develop impulse control problems and engage in violence later in life, new research has found.
37 per cent of the study’s participants who experienced frequent hunger as children reported that they had been involved in interpersonal violence. Of those who experienced little to no childhood hunger, 15 per cent said they were involved in interpersonal violence.
Previous research has shown that childhood hunger contributes to a variety of other negative outcomes — including poor academic performance. The current study is among the first to find a correlation between childhood hunger, low self-control and interpersonal violence. “Good nutrition is not only critical for academic success, but now we’re showing that it links to behavioural patterns. When kids start to fail in school, they start to fail in other domains of life,” said Alex Piquero, professor of criminology at University of Texas at Dallas.
The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The researchers used data from the US National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to examine the relationship between childhood hunger, impulsivity and interpersonal violence. Participants in that study responded to a variety of questions including how often they went hungry as a child, whether they have problems controlling their temper and if they had physically injured another person on purpose.
The findings suggest that strategies aimed at alleviating hunger may also help reduce violence, Piquero said.