Food and Behaviour Research

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The effect of omega-3 fatty acids on aggression: A meta-analysis.

Gajos JM, Beaver KM. (2016) Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 69 147-58. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.07.017. Epub 2016 Jul 20. 

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Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids are important for a variety of mental health outcomes and have been shown to improve both mood and behaviors. However, there is little consensus on whether omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for reducing aggressive behaviors.

The current study assesses the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and aggression. A total of 73 effect sizes were calculated among 40 studies involving 7173 participants from both intervention and observational research designs.

Effect sizes were separately meta-analyzed for two-group comparison studies (SMD=0.20), pre-post contrast studies (ESsg=0.62), and associational studies (r=-0.06), in the fixed-effect model.

Results from the random-effects model also suggest a range of effects of omega-3 fatty acids on reducing aggression (SMD=0.24; ESsg=0.82; r=-0.09). Patterns in the relationship between omega-3s and aggression were additionally observed.

Moderator analyses indicated that the effect of omega-3s on aggression is conditioned by how aggressive behaviors are measured, such as through self-report or parent/teacher surveys.