MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We know some people can get grouchy when they’re hungry. Now a new study is providing evidence that hunger and anger seem to go hand in hand — especially if you are married.

The study is getting a lot of attention because voodoo dolls were used to measure how husbands and wives felt about each other at the end of the day.

Researchers asked the spouses to stick pins in the dolls to demonstrate their feelings. What they found is that the responses were closely tied to the blood sugar levels of the husbands and wives.

Psychologists at Ohio State University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have concluded that low blood sugar is something you want to avoid.

Dr. Thomas Keul is the medical director for mental health services at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He called the study “interesting” and a “helpful reminder.”

“Many people will individually say if they are hungry or haven’t eaten for a while, that they are more irritable. I think that is a common response. And if you are irritable are you more likely to be more verbally abusive, intolerant, angry. Yeah, I think so,” Keul told us.

He explained how our emotions are affected by our glucose levels.

“Glucose is the major energy source for the body and it’s critical for the brain to carry on what we do every day,” he said.

The study looked at 107 couples over 21 days and found that the lower the blood sugar levels, the more pins that were pushed into the voodoo dolls.

Those with the lowest scores pushed in twice as many pins as those with the highest blood sugar levels.
About 70 percent of the people in the study didn’t put any pins in the doll. The average for the whole study was a little bit more than one pin a night per person.

Researchers concluded that it would be helpful for couples to have a snack before discussing something touchy.

“Marriages are difficult and we need to be reasonable and not irritable and not anxious, and not feeling like we need to go get something to eat, so we can talk about things,” Keul said.
Keul said that for many years, doctors have known that being hungry affects your ability to interact with other people in a healthy way.

He said this study is a good reminder for parents, too. Make sure your kids are eating well and not skipping meals.

He wasn’t bothered by the voodoo dolls being used in the study, but said it was definitely not the standard way of doing things.