Children’s Charity Joins Research Into Fish Oils

8 March 2006

A leading UK children’s charity is to become the first to investigate the effects of Omega-3 fish oil supplements in a pioneering initiative which starts on Wednesday (8th March).

NCH, the children’s charity will be giving Omega-3 supplements to pupils with social, emotional and behavioural problems at The Cotswold Community School, which is run by the charity.

The residential school and therapeutic community cares for 25 boys aged between eight and seventeen who have experienced severe emotional, behavioural and social difficulties.

The scheme is part of an on-going programme focusing on nutrition and diet. All 25 pupils will be invited to take part in the initiative, receiving Efalex fish oil supplements for a period of four months, with their behaviour being closely monitored and compared with assessments made before taking the supplements.

As encouragement to the boys and to trial the effects of Omega-3 on themselves, most of the staff at the school will also be taking part.

The results will be analysed by independent nutrition consultant Dr Jacqueline Stordy who has 15 years’ experience in researching long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, learning and behaviour disorders and has written a book on the subject.

Dr Stordy said: “Omega-3 and Omega-6 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are key structural components of the brain and eye, playing an important role in behaviour, concentration, learning ability and co-ordination.

"It is important that we all maintain an adequate intake of these fatty acids as a lack of them can lead to learning and educational problems such as lower IQ, slower development, and educational and behavioural disorders in both children and adults."

The Cotswold Community has already received recognition for its work in improving the diet and lifestyle of pupils in the form of a Healthy School Award from Swindon’s local authority, which the school won in record time.

The school’s principal, Andrew Thomas, has high hopes that the study will build on this strong track record: “There is growing evidence that good nutrition can play an important role in improving mental wellbeing and as a result we have been actively promoting a healthy diet at the school.

“Given the mounting evidence to support the theory that Omega-3 fatty acids can be particularly beneficial for those with learning and behavioural difficulties, we also decided that augmenting the boys’ diets with fish oil supplements would be a good idea. “

The launch of the initiative comes just weeks after a report by the Mental Health Foundation urged government and health care professionals to officially recognise the links between diet and mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids were highlighted as being vital to brain health in the report.

Efamol, the company behind the fish oil supplement, has over 25 years of experience in the field of fatty acids and has spearheaded many studies into their effects on brain function.

Efamol’s Research Director Peter Clough said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with NCH the children’s charity for this groundbreaking study.

“Several previous studies have shown that the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can help relieve some of the symptoms of learning and behavioural disorders in children and adults. We anticipate some interesting results and it may provide us with the means to help other children in the future.”

Founded in 1869, NCH is one of the UK’s leading children’s charities, supporting 140,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable and excluded children and young people. The Cotswold Community school, founded as a therapeutic community in 1976, is just one of 500 projects across the UK that is funded by the charity.

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