A study published online on March 5, 2012 reports that dietary trans fatty acid intake is associated with irritability and aggression in adults. The majority of dietary trans fats come from an industrial process that partially hydrogenates unsaturated fatty acids to stabilize the oil and prolong shelf life.
The investigators concluded that this study provides the first evidence linking dietary trans fatty acids with behavioral irritability and aggression.
The subjects included 945 adults not currently taking lipid medications who did not have LDL-cholesterol extremes and did not have diabetes, HIV, cancer or heart disease. The subjects completed a dietary survey at the beginning of the study. The researchers also assessed the subjects using several questionnaires including Overt Aggression Scale Modified-Aggression subscale, Life History of Aggression, Conflict Tactics Scale and self-rated impatience and irritability. The researchers collected data regarding age, sex, ethnicity, education, alcohol intake and smoking status.
The investigators found that greater dietary trans fatty acid intake was associated with greater aggression. Furthermore, dietary trans fatty acid intake was a more consistent predictor of aggression than the other aggression predictors evaluated. Even after adjusting the data to account for confounders such as sex, age and ethnicity, the correlation remained significant.
Golomb BA, et al. PLoS One. 2012;73:e32175