Robert Clack School Study
- Study investigates 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
- The way in which supplements are given may need to be improved to increase uptake in teenagers
The Robert Clack School serves a disadvantaged community in Dagenham, East London. With the enthusiastic support of the School we recruited 200 volunteers with parental permission from years 9 and 10 (14 – 15 year olds) to join a randomised, controlled, double-blind study of the effect of food supplements (as a proxy for significantly improved diet) on cognitive and school performance as well as behaviour.
We measured cognitive and academic performance, reviewed records of disciplinary incidents, and assessed nutrient status from pin-prick blood samples. Participants were randomly assigned to take daily capsules containing vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids (Wellteen, Vitabiotics Ltd) or a placebo, with none of the researchers or teachers knowing who was in which group. After three months, we took blood samples again, retested the participants and collated cognitive, academic and behavioural scores from the intervention period which analysis of which began late 2011.
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.
We also became aware during the course of this study that the way the vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acid supplements were given to participants (one large tablet and two capsules each day) affected the participation rates. In light of this we are looking at alternative, more palatable ways of delivering supplements for the future.
This study is funded by a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and is being carried out by the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) at the University of Oxford with Professor John Stein as Principal Investigator and Dr Jonathan Tammam as co-ordinator.