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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 16;9(4):e93821. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093821. eCollection 2014.

High fat, low carbohydrate diet limit fear and aggression in Göttingen minipigs.

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Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Section of Experimental Animal Models, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark.
Department of Food and Resource Economics and Department of Large Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark.
Lindsay R Matthews & Associates Research International, Scerne Di Pineto, Italy; Psychology Department, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark.
Novo Nordisk A/S, Måløv, Denmark.


High fat, low carbohydrate diets have become popular, as short-term studies show that such diets are effective for reducing body weight, and lowering the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There is growing evidence from both humans and other animals that diet affects behaviour and intake of fat has been linked, positively and negatively, with traits such as exploration, social interaction, anxiety and fear. Animal models with high translational value can help provide relevant and important information in elucidating potential effects of high fat, low carbohydrate diets on human behaviour. Twenty four young, male Göttingen minipigs were fed either a high fat/cholesterol, low carbohydrate diet or a low fat, high carbohydrate/sucrose diet in contrast to a standard low fat, high carbohydrate minipig diet. Spontaneous behaviour was observed through video recordings of home pens and test-related behaviours were recorded during tests involving animal-human contact and reaction towards a novel object. We showed that the minipigs fed a high fat/cholesterol, low carbohydrate diet were less aggressive, showed more non-agonistic social contact and had fewer and less severe skin lesions and were less fearful of a novel object than minipigs fed low fat, high carbohydrate diets. These results found in a porcine model could have important implications for general health and wellbeing of humans and show the potential for using dietary manipulations to reduce aggression in human society.

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