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Fatty Acid Supplements may Help Develop Child's Brain

Giving children supplements of Omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in oily fish, could help develop their brain, says a study//, though the current evidence is inconclusive.

Professor Basant Puri from Imperial College, London, carried out tests on three boys and one girl, aged between eight and 13, who were overweight, reported the online edition of BBC News.

Puri carried out the test designed to look at the effects of junk food on young brains for a Channel 5 documentary "Mind the Fat: Does Fast Food Slow Kids?"

The participants were asked to be more active and cut down on unhealthy snacks and fizzy drinks. At the same time, they were given two capsules a day of the VegEPA - a diet supplement, which contains an omega-3 fatty acid called EPA.

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.

A supplement containing fatty acids may help children do better at school by improving their reading, concentration, and memory. However researchers say the study was extremely small and the current evidence on the benefits of fatty acid supplements was inconclusive.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring and tuna or seeds such as flax, pumpkin and hemp.

A systematic review of fish oil supplements in children published by the Food Standards Agency last year found there were too many inconsistencies in current evidence to come to any conclusion.

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