What Really Killed Trayvon Martin

On the face of it and by his own admission, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claimed he did so out of self-defense. Legions of professional pundits, armchair analysts, community organizers, gun control advocates and opportunistic politicians have rejected Zimmerman’s explanation. They maintain that the “real” cause lies elsewhere: an inherently dangerous mixture of latent racism and lax gun laws. But the actual culprit in this case is far more subtle. The killer is . . .

Sugar. That’s right, sucrose.

Trayvon didn’t venture out of an apartment in Sanford, Florida, at night, in the rain, to go in search of a comic book or the latest edition of Sports Illustrated. He went to the local 7-11 and bought a package of Skittles and a bottle of Arizona Iced Tea.

A small bag of Skittles packs a 45 gram sugar punch. A bottle of Arizona Iced Tea contains 24 grams of sugar. That’s 69 grams of sugar; the equivalent of over 20 teaspoons of the sweet stuff.

“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises adults who eat a 2,000-calorie diet to limit sugar intake to about 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of added sugar per day,” dailysugarintake.net reports. “A teenager who follows a healthy diet can take about 18 teaspoons of added sugars, according to USDA.”

The average sugar intake of teenager is about 34 teaspoons of sugar per day. Again, Martin was carrying 69 grams at the time of his death.

How much sugar did Trayvon have in his bloodstream at the time of his death (i.e. what was his blood sugar level)? I don’t think his autopsy report will reveal this fact. And yet it may be crucial to a full understanding of the shooting.

Zimmerman says that Martin instigated the confrontation that lead to his death. Zimmerman claims (through his lawyer and father) that Martin confronted and punched him without provocation. There is a direct link between sugar consumption and violent behavior. If you’ve ever given a kid a Hershey bar before bedtime, you’ve seen the frightening results.

Stephen J. Schoenthaler, Ph.D., a sociology professor at the Stanislaus campus of California State University, had a hunch there was a link between three alarming statistical curves: the number of incidences of useless violence, the increased consumption of fast foods, and the increased consumption of processed sugars. He convinced a large-scale prison facility in Virginia to help him conduct a study with inmates. Initially the prisoners were fed a typical American diet that included white bread, hamburgers, sausages, fried potatoes, cookies, sweet snacks, and soft drinks. After a few days they were switched to a whole food diet that included plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole meal bread, as well as fish and lean meats.

The results were remarkable. Once they moved on to healthy foods, behavior problems, such as violence and verbal abusiveness, immediately decreased. When they were switched back to the soft drinks and fatty foods, behavior problems returned.

Now it could be the Martin was suffering from a lack of sugar. That the Florida teen was going through sugar withdrawal. In which case he would have been on a sugar low. Low blood sugar has a negative effect on higher brain function.

(Hypoglycemia) can produce a variety of symptoms and effects but the principal problems arise from an inadequate supply of glucose to thebrain, resulting in impairment of function (neuroglycopenia). Effects can range from mild dysphoria to more serious issues such as seizures, unconsciousness, and (rarely) permanent brain damage or death.

That’s right, dysphoria means depression and discontent. Just the kind of state of mind that might have contributed to a confrontation.

It sounds bizarre, but Zimmerman’s attorneys could choose to deploy a reverse version of the infamous Twinkie defense. They could blame the altercation and eventual shooting on Trayvon’s sugar-laden diet and the effects it had on his behavior. Especially if they can prove that A) Martin ate a sugar-laden junk food diet and B) Martin had history of “unprovoked” verbal or physical violence and/or ongoing discipline problems.

If the sugar issue rears its ugly head (as it has here), Martin’s dietary deficiencies (should they exist) could have larger implications on the the issue of violence in society in general. And attempts to limit same.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example, has used his bully pulpit—and legal powers—to tell New Yorkers what they should and shouldn’t put in in their bodies. He’s cracked down on regulations regarding salt, saturated fats and, of course, cigarette smoke.

In any case, George Zimmerman seems likely to end-up in court. If so, he will have to prove there was a reason why Martin attacked him for no apparent reason. Someone should remind Zimmerman’s lawyers that you are what you eat.