Feeding Children Properly Improves Brain Function and Behavior

Many years ago a study showed violence was cut 50% in juvenile detention centers by providing nutritional supplements. Of course, when the funds for the study ended, they cut the nutritional supplements and watched violence increase. This is the sad state of treatment of children today in the home, schools, and in institutions. We don’t even do the basic stuff we know works.

So here is a new study at one of the leading universities on the planet demonstrating similar results. The new finding is that lack of proper nutrition (and in most cases supplements are essential given our food supply) not only causes behavior problems, it damages kids brains and makes them underachievers. The dumbing down of our children is an epidemic. So if the obesity epidemic doesn’t motivate you to take action, maybe the brain damage epidemic will. Fixing one will help fix the other.


Junk-food Diet ‘Makes Children Badly Behaved’
Life Extension Foundation , 05 May 2005

DIETS high in processed foods are causing bad behaviour and learning difficulties in children, scientists warned yesterday. They said junk food stops the brain working properly, leading to underachievement and a host of disorders.

Such foods not only lack the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that boost brain power, but actually reduce the body’s uptake of nutrients that improve concentration, a study has found.

Thousands of children given medication to combat attention deficit disorder might be better off simply improving their diet, according to the research. The Oxford University study showed that giving children essential fats found in fish and nuts could improve their brain power.

Their ability to learn was increased and their behaviour dramatically improved by supplementing their diets with such fats. Startling results in children who were underachieving and in some cases being disruptive were recorded after just three months. The study involved more than 100 British children battling with physical coordination problems.

They were given daily supplements rich in omega-3 essential fats that are vital for brain development but have been reduced in the national diet over the last couple of decades.

In the study, around 40 per cent of children given omega-3 supplements made dramatic improvements in reading and spelling. There was also a significant improvement in concentration and behaviour, says a report in this month’s issue of the U.S. journal Pediatrics.

Researchers were led by Dr Alexandra Richardson, from Oxford University’s department of physiology.

She said: ‘Food affects behaviour. To ignore the role of nutrition is indefensible. If you paid attention to diet you could really make a difference.’ Patrick Holford, who runs the Brain Bio Centre which tackles mental health problems through nutrition, said: ‘We’re seeing outrageous imbalances in brain chemistry caused by the kinds of foods that sadly millions of kids are eating, and no one’s doing anything about it.

‘These kids are digging their own graves with a knife and fork. We know some fats found in processed and fried foods should be avoided.

‘However, there are other fats that are essential and a deficiency can negatively impact on a child’s behaviour.’ The study involved 117 children aged five to 12 in County Durham. They were of normal ability but underachieving and suspected of having dyspraxia, a condition that affects co-ordination. It is thought to affect at least 5 per cent of British pupils. Even more have learning and behavioural disorders such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Half the children were given omega-3 essential fats capsules for three months, while the rest had ‘dummy’ treatment with capsules of olive oil.
Those on omega-3s made up to ten months’ progress in reading in three months, compared with those taking olive oil who made normal progress.

When the children swopped treatments, there was a similar jump forward for those transferred to omega-3s for the second three- month period. After three months on the supplements, half showed such improvement they were no longer classified as having problems. In some cases, children improved their reading age by up to four years.

Dr Richardson, who is also co-director of the Food and Behaviour Research charity, said unhealthy dietary fats can actually displace the healthy fats in the brain. Known as trans fats, they are mostly found in processed foods such as crisps, biscuits and cakes.

Many teenagers get 40 per cent of their calories from fat. The researchers fear such poor diets could permanently damage brain development.

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