Trans fats cause aggression
Researchers have shown that consumption of dietary trans fatty acids is associated with irritability and aggression.
The study - of nearly 1,000 men and women of all ages and across a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds - provides the first evidence linking dietary trans fatty acids (dTFAs) with adverse behaviours that impacted others, ranging from impatience to overt aggression. The research, led by Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor in the University of California San Diego Department of Medicine, has been published by PLoS ONE.
Margarine and processed foods
Dietary trans fatty acids are primarily products of hydrogenation, which makes unsaturated oils solid at room temperature. They are present at high levels in margarines, shortenings and prepared foods. Adverse health effects of dTFAs have already been identified in lipid levels, metabolic function, insulin resistance, oxidation, inflammation, and cardiac health.
In this study, the UC San Diego team used dietary information and behavioural assessments of 945 adult men and women to analyse the relationship between dTFAs and aggression or irritability. The survey measured such factors as a life history of aggression, conflict tactics and self-rated impatience and irritability, as well as an “overt aggression” scale that tallies recent aggressive behaviours. Analyses were adjusted for sex, age, education, and use of alcohol or tobacco products.
Skip schools and prisons
“We found that greater trans fatty acids were significantly associated with greater aggression, and were more consistently predictive of aggression and irritability, across the measures tested, than the other known aggression predictors that were assessed,” said Golomb. “If the association between trans fats and aggressive behaviour proves to be causal, this adds further rationale to recommendations to avoid eating trans fats, or including them in foods provided at institutions like schools and prisons, since the detrimental effects may extend beyond the person who eats them to affect others.”