Influences of Early Nutrition on Child and Adolescent Antisocial Behavior

Authored by: Phoebe Um , Jianghong Liu

Routledge International Handbook of Delinquency and Health

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367256920
eBook ISBN: 9780429289194
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429289194-4

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Abstract

Juvenile delinquency and antisocial behavior during childhood and adolescence are strong predictors of later violence and crime. Therefore, it is critical to identify early health factors that may contribute to the development of antisocial tendencies. This chapter gives particular emphasis to the nutritional factors that influence later behavioral outcomes. We first present an early health framework that encompasses biological, psychosocial, and environmental risk factors but also includes the concepts of protective factors and mechanism of action. We then provide empirical evidence revealing both nutritional risk and protective factors to support this framework. As potentially amenable early health factors, macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies during childhood and adolescence have been repeatedly associated with antisocial and aggressive behavior. On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been suggested as a potential protective factor against aggression and antisocial behavior. Attention is also given to the potential mechanism underlying the association between nutrition and behavioral outcomes. Finally, we argue the implications of these findings and discuss the ways in which malnutrition may be amended through primary and secondary prevention programs.

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