Dieting may be good for your waistline, but it could also spell disaster for your marriage if a new scientific study is to be believed. Researchers from Ohio State University analysed daily blood glucose in married couples over a period of 21 days. They discovered a clear correlation between decreased blood glucose levels and increased aggressive behavior toward participants’ spouses. In other words, a sweet marriage literally requires sugar.
Old couple picture from Shutterstock
Self-control requires energy in the form of blood glucose, which can be depleted if the body is not receiving enough sugar. To determine whether decreased blood glucose plays a role in spousal aggression, researchers enlisted 107 heterosexual couples who were asked to stick pins in voodoo dolls to express aggressive inclinations toward their partners. Throughout the 21 day study, participants' morning and evening blood glucose levels were tested.
Participants also competed with their spouse on a task in which the winner got to blast the loser with a loud noise through headphones, with options to increase the intensity and duration of the noise.
The study found that participants with low blood glucose stuck more pins into the dolls and blasted their spouses with longer, louder noises. The results suggest that low glucose levels may decrease an individual’s self-control over emotions such as aggression:
Our study found that low glucose levels predicted higher aggressive impulses in the form of stabbing pins in a voodoo doll that represented a spouse. This study also found that low glucose levels predicted future aggressive behavior in the form of giving louder unpleasant noise blasts for longer durations to a spouse. Lower levels of glucose predicted aggressive impulses, which, in turn, predicted aggressive behavior. These findings remained significant even after controlling for relationship satisfaction and participant sex. Thus, low glucose levels might be one factor that contributes to intimate partner violence.
The report concludes that self-control requires a lot of brain food in the form of glucose. The healthy metabolism of glucose may contribute to more peaceful homes by providing couples a boost to their self-control energy.
While not a key focus of the study, the report also notes that dieting could exacerbate the issue and lead to more quarreling:
Dieters restrict their caloric intake in a manner that might place them at risk for aggression. Although we did not measure whether participants were dieting, hunger can increase feelings irritability. If dieters have not eaten enough, they will have lower glucose levels. As a result, they may have less energy to override their irritable feelings and aggressive impulses.