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News

Study to investigate link between essential fatty acids, concentration and behaviour

CSIRO : 13 October, 2006  (Technical Article)
CSIRO is undertaking a research project to investigate the impact of certain nutrients on attention and learning/behavioural problems that may be related to children's ability to concentrate.
The research team is seeking participants in the study, children living in Adelaide, aged 7-12 with problems with attention, learning, and behaviour including hyperactivity.

According to CSIRO's Natalie Gannon, recent research has indicated that nutrients are not only important for health, but can also influence the way that children think and feel. 'One group of nutrients that are especially important for healthy brain functioning are Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (HUFAs),' she says.

HUFAs are important fats that belong to the omega-3 and omega-6 groups of fatty acids which are found in foods such as nuts, seeds, fish and some leafy vegetables.

'Many children in Western societies have diets which are low in HUFAs and/or may have problems with metabolising HUFAs,' Ms Gannon says. 'Studies in the UK and USA have shown that these deficiencies can impact on children's learning and behaviour, including problems that are seen in conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder'.

Importantly, studies have also found that supplementation over an extended period of time can improve children's learning and behaviour.

A study will be conducted this year in Adelaide by CSIRO Health Sciences & Nutrition in association with the University of South Australia to investigate the impact of supplementation with HUFAs on learning and behaviour problems in children aged between 7 and 12 years.

This study also aims to investigate whether any benefits from the HUFA supplement are improved by the addition of a vitamin and mineral supplement which may assist the HUFAs in their metabolism and functions. The study will last for 8 months with results being published in 2005.
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