Fuel up on a gourmet burger. Picture: Shafeequa Effendi/Independent Media

London - If you are what you eat, then death row prisoners who demand a big last meal are, apparently, more likely to be guilty.

Researchers found that prisoners who denied their crimes were more likely to refuse a last meal or eat lightly before execution because they felt hard done by.

However, those who had confessed or apologised ate large, calorie-laden meals.

Experts at Cornell University in New York analysed the final meals of 247 people executed in the US between 2002 and 2006.

Those who denied guilt were 2.7 times more likely to decline a last meal than those who admitted to their crimes.

And people who agreed they were guilty asked for food with 34 percent more calories, and were more likely to request a brand name or comfort foods.

Researcher Kevin Kniffin said some inmates seemed to be guilty as served, adding: “The growing macabre fascination with last meals offers a window into one’s true consumption desires when one’s value of the future is discounted close to zero.”

He said the average last meal contained 2 756 calories and was most likely to be fried and include meat, a dessert and a soft drink.

Earlier this month, murderer Dennis McGuire, who was executed with an experimental injection in Ohio, had a last meal of roast beef, cream cheese bagel, fried chicken, potatoes two ways, butter pecan ice-cream and Coca-Cola. - Daily Mail