No more knuckle sandwiches in the cafeteria.
September 30, 2005 8:55 PM   Subscribe

Now if we could only get the non-aborted blacks to consume less Grape Sode and Fried Chicken, they might commit less crime.

posted by thefreek at 8:57 PM on September 30, 2005

posted by thefreek at 8:58 PM on September 30, 2005

Well, okay. . . Appleton, Wisconsin is full of white kids. I'm not sure what your point is, thefreek. Kids everywhere act crazy sometimes.

Having had a rough day at school today teaching eleven year olds, I would be ecstatic if healthy food could be served in their cafeteria. Maybe it would work and maybe it wouldn't - the worst thing that could happen is the kids would be healthier.
posted by mai at 9:00 PM on September 30, 2005

Sorry, I didn't so much READ the article as NOT read it...

I was just snarkily referring to previous crime prevention theories.
posted by thefreek at 9:07 PM on September 30, 2005

I was going to point out the usual issues of correlation and causation, but the blinded study in the UK prison system is certainly intriguing. In general, though, the kids I see drinking pepsi from their baby bottles and eating cold McDonald's french fries while their sibling gets examined aren't likely to be the recipient's of much common sense from their parents on any level, least of all education and behavioral guidance.
posted by docpops at 9:21 PM on September 30, 2005

Interesting, thanks for the link.
posted by OmieWise at 10:18 PM on September 30, 2005

Their use of all-natural ingredients obscures the fact that this is an attempt to control behavior chemically. I'm in favor of eliminating junkfood from schools, but this is still a bit creepy. Let's play a game:

Fights and offensive behaviour are extremely rare and the police officer is no longer needed. What happened?
A glance through the halls at Appleton Central Alternative provides the answer. The vending machines have been replaced by valium dispensers. The lunchroom took hamburgers and French fries off the menu, making room for chewable Tranxene and Xanax shakes.
Is that all? Yes, that’s all. Principal LuAnn Coenen is still surprised when she speaks of the “astonishing” changes at the school since she decided to drastically alter the offering of food and drinks eight years ago. “I don’t have the vandalism. I don’t have the litter. I don’t have the need for high security.”

posted by ori at 11:18 PM on September 30, 2005

ori : "this is an attempt to control behavior chemically"

It seems the decision to switch wasn't made with an eye towards behavior change. The "astonishing change" is noticed after the fact.
posted by Gyan at 11:23 PM on September 30, 2005

From the article:

"The brain is an active machine: It only accounts for two percent of our body weight, but uses a whopping 20 percent of our energy."

This is the first time I've ever heard this claim, and it's given without attribution. How do you measure "our energy"? The only measure I know of to measure bodily energy is calories... does our brain really use 20% of our calorie intake? I find that hard to believe. It seems like our heads would be even warmer than they are if this were true.
posted by BoringPostcards at 11:42 PM on September 30, 2005

BoringPostcards, replace energy with oxygen consumption.
posted by Gyan at 11:45 PM on September 30, 2005

Appleton Central Alternative High School : Is this the same school featured on Super Size Me? Same conclusions.
posted by missbossy at 11:57 PM on September 30, 2005

I can't speak for the kids in this article, but I know I would have gotten MUCH violent if someone took out the soda machines back in high school.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:01 AM on October 1, 2005

does our brain really use 20% of our calorie intake?

Yes. The brain does indeed account for 20% of a human's power consumption (at rest). A nice overview, titled Power of a Human Brain, is available at the The Physics Factbook. Even more surprising, in infants the brain can account for as much as 60% of the child's energy consumption.

It seems like our heads would be even warmer than they are if this were true.

Blood circulation is largely responsible for the dissipation of the waste heat generated in the brain (via the jugular venous blood). That blood flow protects the human brain from temperature changes in the environment (the brain has a very narrow operating temperature range). Dr. John W. Kimball's Biology Pages have a nice discussion of heat transport by the circulatory system.
posted by RichardP at 12:48 AM on October 1, 2005

RichardP and science for teh win!
posted by dazed_one at 1:15 AM on October 1, 2005

Valium: The fresh-maker.
posted by Radio7 at 2:59 AM on October 1, 2005

Perhaps the kids will pay attention while they read Brave New World now.
posted by srboisvert at 3:02 AM on October 1, 2005

The Youth Justice Board, which runs young offender institutions in England and Wales, is doing a trial at the moment in which they are giving vitamin supplements to young offenders serving community sentences. I don't know whether any evaluation has been released yet - their website doesn't mention it - but given the negative effect prison generally has on reoffending rates, it certainly makes sense to at least see if this improves people's behaviour.
posted by greycap at 5:16 AM on October 1, 2005

So all that was old becomes new again?
posted by shivohum at 7:26 AM on October 1, 2005

Really interesting article, I wish there was more science to draw on here. On the one hand it makes intuitive sense that getting kids away from the sugar rushes (and crashes) would improve behavior. On the other hand it annoys the shit out of me the way some health food advocates will make any claim whatsoever without even looking for scientific support...

Take this sentence in the article: "Is it simply coincidence that the increase in aggression, crime and social incivility in Western society has paralleled a spectacular change in our diet?" It seems to me they have their timeline wrong here. In the U.S. at least violent crime has been decreasing for the last 20 years, even as the diet has grown worse and worse.
posted by LarryC at 7:36 AM on October 1, 2005

I wish there was more science to draw on

more science
posted by stbalbach at 8:17 AM on October 1, 2005

PubMed results on fatty acids and mental health, including bipolar disorder, depression, and ADHD. There are also several studies about depression, schizophrenia, and ADHD buried in this list of research projects on fatty acids. For some time, fatty acids (particularly omega-3, those found in fish and flaxsseed oils) have been a popular target for this kind of research.
posted by dilettante at 9:27 AM on October 1, 2005

This isn't the first school to find that improved discipline and test scores were an accidental result of getting rid of junk food. See: Yvonne Butler of Brown's Mill Elementary. The last I heard, we did not have such striking results (yet) from Nathan Hale School.
posted by ilsa at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2005

We discussed this before, last year I think, but I can't find it. It was probably through one of the advocacy sites that cites the Appleton school experience as proof. I'd be a lot more convinced if they all didn't cite the same damn example.

It's important to remember that Appleton Central Alternative is a charter school -- although I didn't find an outside corporation running it, clearly there's a group with some theory behind all this. They partnered with this bakery which is really, really big on the organic-food/mental-health angle, and links to RxFreeKids which goes a little farther toward linking the two than I'm comfortable with (note: my family has special-needs kids with ~4 prescriptions each). It's an interesting theory, but if this is their only success story after eight years, they're going to have to work harder to persuade me. I know many other schools have altered the nutritional standards of their school lunches and vending machines -- has their experience confirmed the hypothesis? Shouldn't we know by now? Shouldn't we have a whole raft of schools whose principal gushes about how much better behaved their kids are now?
posted by dhartung at 1:36 PM on October 1, 2005

Gorditas do kinda make me want to bust a cap in somebody's ass.
posted by Kloryne at 1:52 PM on October 1, 2005

Dan White, twinkies.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:19 PM on October 1, 2005

Wait, 20% of my energy? Is there a way to increase this? Is there a way to make my brain work at 30% and consider it a 'workout'?
posted by filmgeek at 3:19 PM on October 1, 2005

Amputate couple of your limbs, maybe?
posted by Gyan at 3:29 PM on October 1, 2005

All the stuff with kids and junk food that I have observed is entirely anecdotal when compared to even the most remotely scientific-related study. But at my high school, when kids are lining up to buy fried potato scallops and chocolate milk and coke FOR BREAKFAST, it's no wonder they're bouncing off the walls. And this is in high school, the domain where kids are expected to have the ability to control their behaviour (on most occasions) by this time. Should I be concerned about parents who don't have the ability to shove some cereal or toast in front of their kids' gobs in the morning? Or at least teach them how to make it themselves, if they're so goddamn lazy.

I had one student who usually drank a bottle of Coke before he came to school. If he came to my door acting like a dickhead, I would question him about his Coke intake for the day. Usually by last period he would've had about 3 cans by then. If he'd had Coke recently, I would refuse to let him in my room, because he was too much work. Sounds harsh; I loved the kid to be honest, it wasn't because I had a thing against him. It was just easier to sit him outside and get on with the lesson than trying to start it and having it interrupted 200 times by him. Fortunately he spent most of his time outside classrooms anyway, so me sending him outside for his Coke intake didn't seem unusual.

Our entire state has legislated changes to what food we provide at our tuckshops and canteens. We don't have cafeterias in our schools (in Queensland AU) so our kids tend to buy chips and pies and other fried goodies. Next year, the vending machines are gone, the fried food is gone. And I for one am glad. It doesn't mean the kid can't bring the shit food from home - if they are so desperate to have Coke, they'll bring it, and even I'm okay with that. It means that those parents who give their kids money to buy crap tuckshop food will at least be buying their kids better food. Only ten years ago, tuckshop food was a treat. I say more peanut butter sandwiches for everybody (except the kids with peanut allergies, I suppose).
posted by chronic sublime at 1:04 AM on October 2, 2005

I'd be a lot more convinced if they all didn't cite the same damn example.

Another example.
posted by soyjoy at 10:05 AM on October 2, 2005

Great conversation here, by the way. Thanks all.
posted by LarryC at 6:53 AM on October 3, 2005

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