5

votes

Nutrition Research Dilemma. Prison Inmates?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 24, 2011 at 5:47 AM

Does anyone else feel like there are very few legitimate studies on nutrition? And I'm not talking about poorly designed studies, I'm referring to the idea of people that live in our society having a "controlled" diet. I am in contact with somewhere around 50 people on a regular basis and I wouldn't trust any of them as a subject in a study on nutrition. I wouldn't trust them to follow a strict diet. And I wouldn't even trust myself, because if I was supposed to lose weight on a study, I'd try that much harder to make sure that I lost weight.

It's generally accepted that the science of nutrition is extremely complex, but I think it might simply be that we don't have a lot of true, honest information to go off of.

I really liked Stephan Guyenet's reference of a hospital study in which patients were allowed to drink from a feeding tube, containing a bland solution of calories and vitamins, to satiety. This was a truly controlled study, the patient's couldn't go to the store and get donuts or bologna, they weren't mice eating some weird ass combination of maltodextrin and hydrogenated oils, they were just eating this bland vitamin fluid stuff. The obese patients lost weight and the slender patients maintained weight, very interesting results. But most large scale studies are on people that are living in society. I think to realistically assess the margin of error is to make the study illegitimate. And of course you also have epidemiological studies which often just tell us things that fat people do and things that skinny people do, but they only lend themselves to hypothesis. I'd even argue that epidemiological studies on the whole are detrimental to conclusive science, albeit mostly because of sensationalist media.

Why don't we do nutrition studies on prison inmates? They are isolated and not necessarily unhealthy like hospital patients, making them better subjects. I did do a little research and I see that studies on prison inmates were abused by exposing them to carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. But is this not a realistic proposal? A prison inmate is an infinitely better candidate for a study than someone trying to live in our society with all the food and "food" we are surrounded by. And to suggest that you could possibly torture them via (legitimate) nutrition study greater than the torture they experience by being locked up in a facility for an extended period of time seems pretty absurd to me.

Just an idea...

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on August 24, 2011
at 08:21 PM

If baseline data exists (and I suspect it might) then the experiment has already been performed. But then, who has a vested interest in looking at the results? Certainly not the prison or the state...

Medium avatar

(5639)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:25 PM

I was gonna chime in and say, I would rather have a prison full of lazy, fat, tired, low T motherf****ers, than meat-eating, restless testosterone pumped dudes running around behind bars full of energy and joie-de-vivre!

6869a1f2294b3a717a53645589a91d18

(1689)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:01 PM

I agree. Another positive aspect of these 'experiments' is that they are very long term.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on August 24, 2011
at 04:34 PM

Maybe the barter system would change from trading cigarettes to trading twinkies and Hershey bars.

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on August 24, 2011
at 03:21 PM

The diet we give inmates is already immoral so I don't think morals are the issue here. http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/cruel-and-unusual-punishment-soy-diet-for-illinois-prisoners

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 24, 2011
at 08:01 AM

It would likely improve their behavior!

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 24, 2011
at 06:06 AM

I agree for sure!

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11 Answers

10
6869a1f2294b3a717a53645589a91d18

(1689)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:57 AM

Why don't we do nutrition studies on prison inmates?

regardless of moral issues, generally speaking, effective nutritional research is not done (much) because it is not a priority for the primary funders of science.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 24, 2011
at 06:06 AM

I agree for sure!

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on August 24, 2011
at 03:21 PM

The diet we give inmates is already immoral so I don't think morals are the issue here. http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/cruel-and-unusual-punishment-soy-diet-for-illinois-prisoners

4
0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

on August 24, 2011
at 12:54 PM

Contraband items make their way into prisons. Control of food would still not be 100%!

3
Medium avatar

(3029)

on August 24, 2011
at 02:32 PM

That's why info from Weston Price is valuble. These cultures had very controlled diets. They didn't perform formal scientific experiments, but they arrived at their particular diets by informal experimentation century after century. If their conclusions were wrong, they wouldn't survive.

6869a1f2294b3a717a53645589a91d18

(1689)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:01 PM

I agree. Another positive aspect of these 'experiments' is that they are very long term.

3
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:56 AM

As long as it was good for the inmates. Which could be possible.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 24, 2011
at 08:01 AM

It would likely improve their behavior!

2
Medium avatar

on August 24, 2011
at 06:33 PM

It would probably be better to recruit a bunch of OCD orthorexics like us who would definitely strictly adhere to the given protocol.

2
144e1a4e0753f285f3520d1e9ddbd690

on August 24, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Prison inmates have tried to sue the Illinois state government for putting soy in their food. WAP has been trying to raise money to fund legal action.

http://www.infiniteunknown.net/2010/06/04/how-to-destroy-the-health-of-prisoners-soy-diet/

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on August 24, 2011
at 08:21 PM

If baseline data exists (and I suspect it might) then the experiment has already been performed. But then, who has a vested interest in looking at the results? Certainly not the prison or the state...

1
F40555b9be81e12c2fc460e6fa7d097c

on August 24, 2011
at 08:47 PM

There have been a number of "closed ward" studies on various diets (If you haven't read Dr. Cordain's book he summarizes a number of them in it) on diet and nutrition. In a closed ward situation participants are confined in a hospital-esque situation where they can be monitored at all times by doctors and experimenters.

1
74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:58 PM

I think something similar has been done before, with promising results:

http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/2011/04/diet-and-violence.html

In this study, 231 (young, male, adult, prisoner) volunteers agreed to receive a daily vitamin, mineral, and essential fatty acid supplementation or placebo. The average length of the supplementation was about 142 days, and a number of measures were taken before and during the active phase, including psychological testing, reports of violent acts, and reports of disciplinary action. Prisoners were randomized in part based on baseline disciplinary status and their progress in the "prison regime."in the "prison regime."

The results? The average number of "disciplinary incidents per 1000 person-days" dropped > from 16 to 10.4 in the active group (p<0.001), which is a 35% reduction, whereas the placebo group only dropped by 6.7%. Especially violent incidents in the active group dropped by 37%, and in the placebo group only 10.1%.

Granted, this wan't a complete dietary overhall, but rather instead supplementation with a multivitamin and omega fatty acids. Still, I found it to be very fascinating and very exciting.

:D

1
61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on August 24, 2011
at 04:49 PM

I am hopelessly addicted to all the prison reality shows on TV right now, Nat Geo's "Hard Time" is my favorite. They have a black market scam selling/trading commissary items for goods and services. The preferred commodities are junk food--chips, twinkies, etc... But, if you look at them as a whole, they are lean and mean and workout a lot. They are mostly well-muscled and ripped. According to CW and PW, they are getting at least 1g protein per pound of LBM. That means they must be eating tons of meat, but somehow I doubt it. I wish they would do an entire episode on prison nutrition. I'd love to see what these guys eat--they usually just show them in the chowhall with a tray containing what looks like mystery meat, green beans, and a slice of bread. If I were the prison warden, I'd feed them SAD all the way--heavy on the wheat, low on the meat. That way you'd have a chubby, listless bunch of guys to guard vs. a crowded cage of wild animals.

Medium avatar

(5639)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:25 PM

I was gonna chime in and say, I would rather have a prison full of lazy, fat, tired, low T motherf****ers, than meat-eating, restless testosterone pumped dudes running around behind bars full of energy and joie-de-vivre!

1
0e4e5882872d6a7c472ea51aec457e66

(1994)

on August 24, 2011
at 06:38 AM

In this film they mention that prison inmates who had had a sugar restricted diet while in prison were less likely to show up again in less than 1 year:

Before Lustig's Bitter Truth - The Sugar Trap - 1986 - 1 of 6 - Documentary

So there must have been some research done...

0
2bdc990a200584a385650cf68475f095

on August 24, 2011
at 11:26 AM

Well, Colpo vs. Eades metabolic advantage debate involved a lot of talk about psychiatric hospital studies.

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