30 May 2024

Omega-3 supplements moderately reduced aggression in children and adults

A meta-analysis by US researchers has shown that supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can reduce aggression in the short term. A publication about this appeared in the journal Aggression and Violent Behaviour. Adrian Raine and Lia Brodrick of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 29 randomised controlled trials that examined the association of omega-3 supplementation at recommended daily doses with aggression and aggressive behaviour. They contained 35 independent samples with a total of 3,918 participants (51.4 per cent were children and adolescents under 18 years of age). The average follow-up period was 16 weeks.

The researchers conducted three analyses, with independent samples, independent studies, and independent laboratories serving as units. A significant effect size was found in all of these analyses (g = 0.16; 0.20 and 0.28, respectively). On average, this yielded a moderate but significant effect size of g = 0.22; and levels of both reactive and proactive forms of aggression were reduced (g = 0.27 and 0.20, respectively). Effects were observed regardless of age, gender, experimental setting (outpatient, clinic or prison) and concomitant diagnoses. There was no evidence of publication bias, and sensitivity analyses confirmed the results. The authors conclude that omega-3 supplements can be considered as a relatively affordable additional method of helping people who have problems with aggressive emotions and behaviours. Further research is needed to elucidate their possible long-term efficacy.

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