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Trans Fat Linked to Increased Aggression, Irritability

SAN DIEGO—People who consume foods containing trans fatty acids, such as snacks and fried foods made with partially hydrogenated oils, may be prone to more aggression and irritability, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Adverse health effects of trans fat have been identified in lipid levels, metabolic function, insulin resistance, oxidation, inflammation and cardiac health. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine used baseline dietary information and behavioral assessments of nearly 1,000 men and women to analyze the relationship between dietary trans fatty acids 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 behaviors. analyses were adjusted for sex, age, education, and use of alcohol or tobacco products.

They 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.

“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," they said.

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