Last month I highlighted research out of Sweden that found four year olds already overweight, with features of metabolic syndrome and deficient in essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Interestingly, those children with the highest BMI consumed higher intake of sucrose (sugar) and lower fat.
Today the BBC reports on a very small study - involving four children - who were given fish oil supplements. Tests done at the end of the three-month study found the children showed an increase in reading age of well over a year, their handwriting became neater and more accurate and they paid more attention in class. Brain scans which identified a chemical called N-Acetylaspartate (NAA) which is linked to the growth of nerve fibres in the brain also showed dramatic changes.
Researcher Basant Puri said of his findings, "In three months you might expect to see a small NAA increase. But we saw as much growth as you would normally see in three years. It was as if these were the brains of children three years older. It means you have more connections and greater density of nerve cells, in the same way a tree grows more branches."
A large placebo controlled study is expected to get underway in the coming months to confirm the findings. On this, Puri said "My view is we can't come to any clear conclusion until a proper trial is done."