Omega-3 Supplementation as a Dietary Intervention to Reduce Aggressive and Antisocial Behavior

  • Olivia Choy
  • Adrian Raine
Attention-Deficit Disorder (A Rostain, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Attention-Deficit Disorder


Purpose of Review

Although there is an increasing body of literature on the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and aggressive/antisocial behavior, evidence to date suggests that there are mixed findings on the efficacy of omega-3 supplementation as a dietary intervention to reduce such behaviors. This article describes the current state of the research regarding omega-3 supplementation and aggressive/antisocial behavior from intervention studies, with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials.

Recent Findings

The current evidence base indicates a small effect size (approximately d = .20) for the efficacy of increased omega-3 intake in reducing aggressive and antisocial behavior in children and adults. How precisely omega-3 supplementation results in such behavioral improvement is an open question, although upregulation of dysfunctional prefrontal regions is one candidate mediator.


Directions for further research include understanding the more basic mechanisms that may underlie any intervention effects, delineating dose-response relationships, ascertaining optimal treatment duration and composition, conducting follow-ups post-treatment, and testing the provisional hypothesis that more impulsive, reactive forms of aggression may be particularly amenable to omega-3 supplementation.


Dietary intervention Aggression Antisocial behavior Externalizing behavior Omega-3 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and PsychologyUniversity of Pennsylvania, Jerry Lee Center of CriminologyPhiladelphiaUSA

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