Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Council to probe fish oil benefits

Posted by Chris

The dreaded part of our regular Saturday visits to my Grandma, for my brother and I, when we were kids, were the doses of cod liver oil she gave us before we set off for the bus home. Yuc!!! I can still taste it now. As soon as we got out of the door we were into the bag of sweets, she always gave us to share with our other brothers and sisters, to take the taste away.

The practice seemed to have gone out of fashion, though Glynis used to give our kids a cod liver oil and malt mixture. It seems to be now back in fashion and the Council has issued the following statement today:

The possibility of using fish oil supplements to improve pupil performances in more schools across Redcar and Cleveland is set to be investigated.

Two projects have already been carried out at Loftus Junior School and Eston Park Comprehensive with 'potentially significant benefits', councillors have been told.

Now the Council's Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee wants more wide-ranging consultation on the options for the promotion of fish-oil supplements and is urging more schools to take part in trials.

Our Lib Dem colleague and Committee chair Councillor Mary Ovens said: "We're not saying this is some sort of magic formula, but there's no doubt that the results have been very encouraging in some cases and the scrutiny committee felt everyone would benefit from more consultation.

"We would also like more schools to consider taking part in these trials because of the possible benefits and so we can look and compare more data."

In a report to councillors, the Council's principal educational psychologist Alastair Robertson said: "On the basis of the evidence available, the use of fish oil supplements appears to hold some significant potential benefits for some pupils with little evidence of disadvantage. Should any pupil not respond positively, cessation of the supplements would be a simple solution.

"We would advise schools and parents wishing to try supplements that they should do so, but to monitor the effects for their individual children. Such monitoring need not be elaborate but should include learning and behaviour."

The benefits of taking fish oils is thought to relate to the high Omega 3 and Omega 6 content. These fatty acids are essential to the functioning of the brain, but cannot be made by the body and have to be ingested.

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