Execution Victims who Deny Guilt are More Likely to Order Last Meals Low in Calories

Sunday, January 26, 2014
Timothy McVeigh's last meal (photo: famouslastmeals.com)

Last meals served before executions say a lot about those on Death Row, according to researchers at Cornell University.


Professors Kevin Kniffin and Brian Wansink studied (pdf) the last meals of 247 people executed in the United States between 2002 and 2006.


They found that prisoners who denied guilt were 2.7 times more likely to decline a last meal than those who admitted guilt (29% to 8%).


Also, Death Row inmates who admitted they were guilty requested 34% more calories of food and were more likely to request brand name, comfort-food items, Kniffin and Wansink concluded.


The research followed another study they did in 2012, along with Mitsuru Shimizu at Cornell, that found last meals overall are high in protein and fats, and featured items such as french fries, soda, ice cream, hamburgers, chicken, steak, and pie.


The meals of those who admitted guilt averaged 2,756 calories and contained 2.5 times the daily recommended servings of protein and fat. The meals of those who had not admitted guilt averaged 2,085 calories.


Food most commonly requested was meat (84%), fried food (68%), desserts (66%), and soft drinks (60%).


“The prisoners’ proportionally high in protein and fat while low in fruits and vegetables meals were also seen to match the food eating patterns found within insecure environments,” Lizette Boreli wrote at MedicalDaily. “This highlights how food is used to mediate feelings of stress and distress.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

What Last Meals Can Tell Us About Guilt and Innocence (by Kevin M. Kniffin and Brian Wansink, Laws)

Last Meals May Predict Guilt Or Innocence: High Calorie, Meaty Foods Most Popular Among Guilty Death Row Inmates (by Lizette Boreli, MedicalDaily)

Death Row Confessions and the Last Meal Test of Innocence (by Kevin M. Kniffin and Brian Wansink, Laws) (pdf)

Death Row Nutrition. Curious Conclusions of Last Meals (Kevin M. Kniffin, Brian Wansink and Mitsuru Shimizu, Appetite)

Last Supper Paintings Reflect the New Obesity (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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