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Nutrition can improve behaviour in school children

16th Dec 2015 by Alicia Parr

  • Robert Clack School study published
  • Study investigated the effects of supplements on school performance and behaviour
  • Supplements contained vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Results showed supplementation improved behaviour in children
  • Results confirm previous research

The IFBB co-ordinated a research trial in the Robert Clack School, Dagenham testing the effects of vitamin, mineral and omega-3 supplementation on behaviour in school-aged children.

196 children aged 13 to 16 enrolled into the 12 week [double-blind randomised placebo-controlled] trial where they were split into two groups. One group were given the nutritional supplements while the other group were given placebos.

Blood samples were taken to measure the change in omega-3, omega-6, vitamin and mineral levels over the study. These were low at the start of the study and significantly improved in the treatment group receiving the nutrient supplements over the 12 weeks.

Behaviour change was measured using the Conners scale and school disciplinary records. Using the disruptive behaviour scale, the results showed that the behaviour in the students receiving the supplements improved, while the behaviour of the pupils receiving the placebo worsened.

When comparing the well behaved and badly behaved students, the poorly behaved students’ behaviour improved while they were taking the nutrient supplements.

Results suggest that nutritional supplementation improves behaviour in school aged children.

What does the Institute think?

With funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation together with the EP Abram Trust, Oxford University and the Dyslexia Research Trust, the IFBB was able to facilitate this crucial research. This study confirmed what previous research has shown, that improving the diets of disadvantaged children helps to help improve behaviour.

Dr Jonathan Tammam, principal researcher on the study, said “Our research adds to the growing body of evidence that nutrition can impact the cognitive health and behaviour of children, not least from underprivileged backgrounds.  These findings have implications for public health policy and are useful in working towards the aim of understanding how improvements in dietary intake can benefit the health and lives of individuals and society.”

Chief Executive of the IFBB Dr Richard Marsh commented “It is extremely important we continue to research the impact that nutrition has on brain function. Having robust scientific evidence at the heart of our public messages is essential to the IFBB.”

The IFBB believes it is important that all children receive a balanced diet with a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fats not only for growth and development but also to help improve behaviour.

About the School

The Robert Clack School is a mixed comprehensive school and has approximately 2000 pupils. It serves a disadvantaged community in Dagenham, East London and prides itself on its commitment to continual and consistent improvement.

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