Consumption of dietary trans fatty acids (dTFAs) is linked to aggression and irritability, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. The results of the study are the same in every range of measures — in men and women of all ages, in Caucasians and minorities.
The research, which included nearly 1,000 men and women, offers the first evidence linking dTFAs with negative behavior that affects other people, ranging from impatience to open aggression.
Trans fatty acids are caused by hydrogenation, a process which results in unsaturated oils turning solid at room temperature. Margarines, shortenings and many prepared foods have high levels of trans fatty acids. Negative health effects of dTFAs have been identified in lipid levels, metabolic function, insulin resistance, oxidation, inflammation and cardiac health.
For the study, researchers reviewed baseline dietary information and behavioral assessments of 945 adult men and women to evaluate the relationship between dTFAs and aggression or irritability.
The survey included factors such as life history of aggression, conflict strategies and self-rated impatience and irritability, as well as an “overt aggression” scale that keeps track of recent aggressive behaviors. Adjustments were made for sex, age, education and use of alcohol or tobacco products.
“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 Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the UC San Diego Department of Medicine.
“If the association between trans fats and aggressive behavior 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 of trans fats may extend beyond the person who consumes them to affect others.”
The research is published online by PLoS ONE.
Source: University of California