Recent research published in the Brain and Behavior journal reveals that the rising incidence of violence in adolescent girls may be related to food.
More precisely, the research team found that the respondents who followed a Western diet were more likely to express violent thoughts and actions when asked about their dietary habits and aggressiveness.
This study adds to the growing body of data suggesting a relationship between poor nutrition and violence.
The prevalence of aggression as a mental health issue has increased recently.
Studies on teenage aggressiveness have largely focused on men, despite the fact that female aggression has been increasing faster than male aggression lately.
Teenage aggressiveness has been connected to a number of factors, including media exposure, overall stress, as well as socioeconomic status.
In addition, there are also hints that nutrition might impact mental health, even if the data is inconclusive.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable to peer pressure throughout this important period of adolescence, which can have a detrimental effect on their eating habits, creating a vicious cycle.
The relationship between diet, nutrients, and antisocial behavior has been studied in clinical research, and enacting school food nutrition rules has typically had a positive impact on students’ dietary decisions.
There hasn’t been any research done yet on how teenage girls’ regular eating habits may be related to their propensity for violence.
Mahsa Malekahmadi and the rest of the research team gathered 670 teenage females between the ages of 12 and 18 for their study from several schools located around the Iranian region of Razavi Khorasan.
The study excluded participants who had chronic illnesses or were using relevant drugs or supplements.
Participants’ dietary intake information was gathered using a food frequency questionnaire that had 168 food items and 9 multiple-choice answer categories to choose from.
Utilizing the national nutrition database of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nutrient intake per day was determined.
To identify major dietary trends, 40 food groups were also created.
In accordance with established protocols, measurements of weight, height, waist circumference as well as blood pressure were taken twice, allowing for the calculation of an aggressiveness rating.
Statements such as “Some of my friends think I am a hothead” and “I have threatened people I know,” are included in the questionnaire.
The study found that among the participants, there were 3 main dietary patterns and that those who followed a Western dietary pattern tended to be more aggressive.
Aggression did not, however, significantly correlate with either a healthy or fast food diet.
Better diet choices and abstaining from unhealthy foods, according to the authors, may reduce teen aggression, but future, expanding studies are required to ultimately confirm it.
The scientists involved in the study concluded that increasing access to food in classrooms and neighborhoods can lessen teenage girls’ aggressive behavior.
They also suggest that in order to reduce the likelihood of psychological disorders in teenagers, nutrition policymakers should support healthy dietary habits.
Finally, they recommend further research to look into the relationship between significant dietary patterns and aggressive behavior in kids and teenagers, especially those with bigger sample sizes.