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Study: Frequent Hunger During Childhood Could Lead to Impulse Control Problem, Violence Later in Life

Jun 21, 2016 09:10 PM EDT
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A new study suggests that children who are often hungry are more likely to become impulsive and violent later on in their life.
(Photo : Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

A new study from the University of Texas, Dallas, suggests that people who experience frequent hunger during their childhood have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, revealed that children who often go hungry are more than twice as likely to exhibit impulsivity and intentionally inflict physical injury to others later on in their life.

Previous studies have also linked childhood hunger and poor academic performances. However very few studies relates childhood hunger to low self-control and interpersonal violence.

"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," commented Dr. Alex Piquero, Ashbel Smith Professor of Criminology and associate dean for graduate programs in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, in a statement.

For the study, researchers used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Participants of the study were then asked to answer to wide array of questions. These questions include how often do they get angry during their childhood, problems in controlling temper and if they have intentionally hurt another person physically.

The researchers discovered that 37 percent of the participants who reported often childhood hunger were involved in interpersonal violence. On the other hand, only 15 percent of the participants who reported little or no childhood hunger were involve in interpersonal violence.

The study also showed that the link between childhood hunger and interpersonal violence is strongest among whites, Hispanics and males.

With their findings, researchers recommend government organization and community groups to developed strategies to address hunger, especially in areas with little access to grocery stores and healthy foods. Researchers believe that alleviating childhood hunger may help reduce violence.

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