We’ve known for ages that trans fats are seriously not good news health-wise. Now it is being suggested that there could be a direct link with aggressive behaviour. The link has not been established as causal, but the research methodology seems quite sound and there could be important applications – though the researchers’ picking out of “schools and prisons” as examples of real life might be an illustration of an unconscious effect!
The team (UC San Diego) analysed the relationship between trans fatty acids and aggression or irritability using baseline dietary information and behavioural assessments of 945 adults, men and women. They measured factors such as a life history of aggression, conflict tactics and self-rated impatience and irritability, plus an “overt aggression” scale about recent aggressive behaviours. Results were adjusted for sex, age, education, and use of alcohol and smoking.
They found that greater trans fatty acids in the diet were significantly associated with greater aggression, and were more consistently predictive of aggression and irritability than the other known aggression predictors.
It seems that it is wise to avoid eating trans fats for more than physical health reasons, as well as not including them in foods provided for communities such as schools and prisons.
Golomb, B.A., Evans, M.A., White, H.L. and Dimsdale, J.E. (2012) Trans Fat Consumption and Aggression. PLoS ONE, 7 (3)