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Marriage

Angry Spouses And Low Blood Sugar

Lower blood-sugar levels may make married people likelier to be angry at their spouse, new research shows.

In a 21-day study, researchers found that blood glucose levels, measured each night, predicted how angry people would be toward their spouse at that time.

After the study ended, people with the lower blood glucose levels were also shown in a lab experiment to be more willing to subject their spouse to unpleasant noises than those with higher glucose levels.

According to lead author Brad Bushman, professor of communications and psychology at The Ohio State University, the simple factor of hunger caused by low blood-glucose levels can have a profound effect. He said it could play a role in arguments, confrontations and possibly even domestic violence.

The study, which took three years to complete, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Investigators looked at 107 married couples who were evaluated for relationship satisfaction.

Using a previously validated research method, investigators gave the participants a voodoo doll that they were told represented their spouse, along with 51 pins. At the end of each day, for 21 consecutive days, the participants inserted 0 to 51 pins in the doll, depending on how angry they were with their spouse. They recorded the number of pins they stuck in the doll.

Each person also used a blood glucose meter to measure glucose levels before breakfast and every evening before bed.

The result: The lower the participants’ evening blood glucose levels, the more pins they stuck in the doll. That link was present even after the the researchers took into account the couples’ relationship satisfaction.

“When they had lower blood glucose, they felt angrier and took it out on the dolls representing their spouse,” Bushman said. “Even those who reported they had good relationships with their spouses were more likely to express anger if their blood glucose levels were lower.”

Bushman said that glucose is fuel for the brain. The self-control needed to deal with anger and aggressive impulses takes energy, and that energy is provided in part by glucose.

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