Study: Condemned US inmates go for comfort foods (Update)
(AP)—On death row, last meals tend to be high in calories and heavy on meat.
French fries, soda, ice cream, hamburgers, chicken, steak and pie are commonly requested items among inmates imminently facing execution, according to Cornell University researchers who studied 193 last meal requests in the United States.
The final meals of condemned prisoners are an enduring, if morbid, source of fascination—whether those convicted of the most heinous crimes opted for a final lobster dinner or canned spaghetti. Requests vary greatly, but the Cornell researchers found some general trends in a quirky bit of research analyzing last meal orders.
No surprise: Many last meal requests are tasty but unhealthy. More than two-thirds of the condemned ordered fried foods, mostly french fries, and they ordered dessert at about the same rate. Inmates were five times more likely to request soda than milk.
The average meal request came in at an estimated 2,756 calories, more than a typical grown man needs in a whole day. Researchers estimated that four of the meal requests tallied more than 7,200 calories, including a request for 12 pieces of fried chicken, two buttered rolls, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, two sodas and a pint each of strawberry and vanilla ice cream.
Comfort foods were popular among the condemned. More than a third asked for the most popular meat, chicken, followed by hamburger (24 percent) and steak (22 percent). Four percent requested fast-food takeout from chains like McDonald's, Wendy's or KFC.
Fruits and vegetables were much less popular, though more than a quarter requested a salad.
Lead researcher Brian Wansink, who directs the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said the popularity of comfort foods and name-brand products like Coca-Cola could reflect people trying to deal with extremely high stress by surrounding themselves with familiar food.
"In some ways, this might be a way to bring the level of stress and negative excitement down to something that's something a little bit more manageable," Wansink said. "You don't find people going for Neapolitan ice cream or for Chunky Monkey or Chubby Hubby. They go for chocolate; they go for vanilla."
Researchers said it's also possible that some of patterns, like the paucity of vegetarian meals, could reflect the socio-economic backgrounds of people on death row.
Researchers looked at 247 people executed in the United States from 2002 through 2006. All but two were men, and the average age at the time of execution was 43. They focused on 193 meals after excluding 51 inmates who did not choose a last meal, and three more who had a meal under 200 calories, including a person who requested a single pitted olive.
Wansink cautions they are not aware of what the inmates actually ate, only what they requested. Researchers noted that meal requests usually must fall within a budget, and no alcohol is allowed.
Texas, one of the states included in the study, stopped the practice of giving special final meals last year after an extensive request from a man being executed for his role in a notorious hate-crime dragging death.
The study was posted online this week in the journal Appetite.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Super-sizing great for your wallet but not your waist May 06, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Fast food meals are smaller, have fewer calories than food served at restaurants Dec 17, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- The hungry bypass veggies for starches, proteins Jun 29, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Diet high in vegetables and fruit associated with less weight gain in African-American women May 20, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Low-calorie cheesecake? Why we have trouble estimating calories Sep 20, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
High blood glucose is associated with poor outcomes in hospitalized patients, and use of intensive insulin therapy (IIT) to control hyperglycemia is a common practice in hospitals. But the recent evidence does not show a ...
Other 20 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Two out of five medical students have an unconscious bias against obese people, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The study is published online ahead of print in the Journal of ...
Other May 23, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) new medical school will be pioneering the use of plastinated bodies for medical education in Singapore.
Other May 23, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
A 2012 survey of internal medicine residents at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) – one of the nation's leading teaching hospitals – found that more than half rated the training they had received in addiction and other ...
Other May 22, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Early use of tracheostomy for mechanically ventilated patients not associated with improved survival
For critically ill patients receiving mechanical ventilation, early tracheostomy (within the first 4 days after admission) was not associated with an improvement in the risk of death within 30 days compared to patients who ...
Other May 21, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
8 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Kate O'Reilly's spring allergy survival kit includes the usual stuff - nasal sprays, allergy pills and a box of tissues. This season, she's added a new weapon to her line of defense: an app on her smartphone.
6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0