Fish oil test shows improvements in behaviour|
NORWICH, UK: Results of a study on the impact of diet and eye q(TM) fish oil supplements on pupils at Eaton Hall Special School in Norwich were published on October 31 and indicated a marked improvement in behaviour.
Twenty-eight pupils aged 10-16 at the Norfolk County Council special school in Norwich completed the six-month open plan study, which saw them being given a healthy and balanced diet alongside the eye q(TM) fish oil supplement on a daily basis, between January and June this year.
Eaton Hall in Norwich is Norfolk County Council's specialist school for boys with severe behavioural, social and emotional difficulties and includes day pupils and boarders. All have statements of special educational needs, and been excluded or involved in a managed move from another school. They are diagnosed with various disorders including autism, Asperger's syndrome, attention deficit Disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and pervasive developmental disorder.
The assessments were highly detailed and in-depth, with a range of data available for individual children. Staff already monitor the behaviour of pupils in a systematic way, building up a daily record of progress and behaviour. All pupils also have individual diaries to record their progress and behaviour. The impact of the study was anaylsed by comparing previous information with that gathered during the study.
The health programme included changes to the school meals prepared and served at Eaton Hall. The cook, Helen Clarke, introduced meals with reduced salt, transfatty acids, sugar, preservatives and additives, giving pupils a wider range of healthy eating options.
Lisa Christensen, Norfolk County Council's Director of Children's Services, said: "This is the first time that a study of this size just on children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties has been carried out. It was a unique opportunity, because there was already detailed information about individual pupils' behaviour from before the changes in their diet and the introduction of the supplements.
"The results show a fall in the number of times pupils were involved in incidents where they had to be physically managed because of their behaviour, with by far the biggest fall amongst those pupils who previously had to be physically managed the most. It's just one study on the impact of healthy diets and omega-3 and omega-6, but it is encouraging and we want to share the results with others as part of the debate."
During the six months before the healthy diet and supplementation began, there were 112 recorded incidents of physical management and 15 non-physical incidents amongst the 28 pupils. During the six-month health programme, there were 36 recorded physical management and 29 non-physical incidents amongst the same 28 pupils.
There was a 49 per cent reduction in total incidents (managed and non-physical) compared with the previous period, a 68 percent reduction in physically managed incidents, while non-physical incidents nearly doubled.
The biggest impact was on pupils who were previously involved in the highest number of incidents. The three pupils who saw the biggest change saw reductions in both physically managed and non-physical incidents of 94 per cent, 40 per cent and even a fall from 10 physically managed incidents to no incidents at all.
"These statistics suggests that, as a result of the new health programme and supplements, the children were able to control their anger better, so while outbursts still occurred, they were less extreme, requiring minimal physical intervention from a teacher," said Lianne Quantrill, the project co-ordinator at the school.
Valerie Moore, headteacher at Eaton Hall School, who had been instrumental in setting up the study with Equazen, who produce the supplement, said: "This was a worthwhile study. For some children, it made a positive difference. Even if it had only helped one child, it would still have been worthwhile. Within the wide and varied behaviour modification methods we use at Eaton Hall School, this was another strategy well worth exploring."
Staff at the school also took the supplements, to encourage the children to take theirs and see if they feel any benefits too, although they were not part of the study.
Other information from the six-month study was also compared with the six months leading up to the study. School attendance improved by 6 per cent overall, and by 12 per cent for the year group with the most pupils taking part in the study. The number of students awarded commendations went up by 38 per cent. The year group with the highest overall number of sanctions saw a 27 per cent fall.
This was an open-plan study, which is different to a scientific study: there was no placebo or control group.
Physically managed incidents are the positive application of force to safeguard people and property. The definition is taken from www.team-teach.co.uk. If staff have physically to manage a pupil. It is primarily to prevent them harming themselves or others, damaging property or prejudicing good order.
eye q(TM) is a combination of omega-3 marine fish oil and omega-6 virgin, organic evening primrose oil. The fish oil is naturally high in EPA, a functional fatty acid that helps the brain send messages between cells and has been shown in research to improve memory, mood, concentration and behaviour. The fish oil in eye q(TM) is pressed from the flesh of sardines and pilchards harvested for their high levels of EPA. Special care is taken to leave the oil in its most natural bio-available form, so the fatty acids are easily absorbed by the body. The oil is from fish living in southern oceans known to have very low pollution levels. Each batch is independently tested and always found to be in full compliance with the stringent European Community and World Health Organisation guidelines for levels of PCBs and dioxins.
(Source: PRNewswire, October 31, 2006)