11584th October 2007 - Washington Post - Mothers Again Urged to Eat Fishfish and seafood intake in pregnancy, omega-3 and mercury, benefits and risks04/10/2007by Sally Squires, Washington Post Staff Writer
Advisory at Odds With FDA Stance
Pregnant and breast-feeding women should eat at least 12 ounces of fish and seafood per week to ensure their babies' optimal brain development, a coalition of top scientists from private groups and federal agencies plans to declare today in a public advisory that marks a major break with current U.S. health advice.
The scientists' conclusion is at odds with the standard government advice issued in 2001 that new mothers and mothers-to-be should eat no more than 12 ounces of seafood per week because of concerns about mercury contamination.
Shifting data and advice on how women's consumption of fish and seafood affects brain development of fetuses and infants, the most vulnerable groups, have produced one of the more vexing nutritional dilemmas of recent years.
In the short term, at least, today's statement, drafted by scientists affiliated with multiple medical organizations, is likely to deepen the dilemma for many women, especially since the Food and Drug Administration indicated that it will study the new information but is not prepared to change the advice it reiterated in 2004.
"There is a big debate about what is safe," said Brown University professor Patricia Nolan, a former state health officer of Rhode Island and one of the experts who drafted the new guidelines. "There are really complex questions. That is why we are doing this."
At the core of the problem is the tension between the brain-bolstering nutrients in seafood and concern over exposure to mercury, which builds up in the tissue of many marine species and is toxic to nerve tissue.
Practicing physicians such as New York University obstetrician Ashley Roman, herself a new mother, expect the questions about seafood and mercury to intensify.
"Every single day, I get questions from my patients about this, because it is such a confusing area," said Roman, who served on the panel that offered the new advice. "Personally, for me in my practice, it doesn't change what I have already been recommending, which is to have at least three servings of fish a week."
The first thing Roman said she tells her patients is that "fish intake in pregnancy has never been linked with mercury toxicity" in fetuses or newborns, while highlighting the benefits to mother and baby.
Fish and seafood are the major dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially a substance called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are key nutrients for the brain and nervous system in developing fetuses, infants and young children.
The advisory set to be released today at a Washington news conference comes from the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. The coalition is a nonprofit group with nearly 150 members, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the March of Dimes, as well as federal agencies including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Concerns about mercury contamination prompted the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to issue consumer advisories in 2001 and again in 2004. Pregnant and breast-feeding women, those who wanted to become pregnant, and young children were told to eat no more than 12 ounces weekly of fish or seafood, a number based on theoretical calculations of the potential for contamination.
The FDA and EPA also recommended that these groups avoid eating shark, tilefish, king mackerel and swordfish because of high mercury content, and to eat no more than six ounces per week of albacore tuna. The agencies say that for most other people, the mercury in fish and shellfish poses no risk.
Consumers seemed to take that advice to heart and were reinforced by the popular self-help book "What to Expect When You're Expecting." It said that when it comes to fish, pregnant women, as well as nursing mothers and young children, "should play it safer than the general population."
The federal seafood warning led 56 percent of pregnant women to cut fish consumption to levels well below beneficial amounts, according to a study conducted earlier this year at the Medical University of South Carolina.
When women skimp on fish, dubbed "brain food" by previous generations, their babies and children can sometimes pay the price, other studies indicate. Earlier this year, a team of British and American scientists reported in the Lancet that children of women who ate the smaller amounts recommended in the United States during pregnancy had lower IQs and lower academic test scores at age 8, and more behavioral and social problems throughout early development, than youngsters whose mothers ate 12 or more ounces per week.
Other studies suggest that missing out on the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can increase the risk of delivering a baby too early and at a low birth weight.
It's not just babies and children who may be harmed by inadequate consumption of seafood. Women who do not get enough omega-3s in pregnancy seem to have a higher risk of depression while expecting and after giving birth. Postpartum depression afflicts about one of every 10 new mothers, said James McGregor, a University of Southern California obstetrician who headed the Maternal Nutrition Group, which drafted the new guidelines.
Some countries and governmental groups, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Nordic Council of Ministers, already advise that pregnant women eat at least two servings of fish per week.
The latest recommendations add to a growing call for consuming more omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy. The Healthy Mothers guidelines say it is best to choose ocean fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, which are highest in omega-3s.
Fish is rich in selenium, a mineral that occurs at about five to 20 times the concentration of mercury. When the two chemicals bind, "there is a growing body of evidence that selenium in ocean fish may also counteract the potential negative influence of mercury exposure," the panel said.
An FDA representative said that the agency "plans to study the recommendations" but has not changed its advice.
For women who don't like fish -- or feel caught in the middle of the scientific debate -- options include other food rich in omega-3s such as flaxseed and oil, or foods fortified with omega-3s, such as eggs from chickens raised on feed rich in DHA.
Fish oil supplements are another choice. Earlier this year, the European Commission recommended that pregnant and lactating women take 200 milligrams per day of DHA supplements.
In the US and UK, official dietary advice in recent years has mainly emphasised the possible risks from mercury, and cautioned pregant mothers to limit their intake of fish and seafood.
After studying the evidence, a coalition of leading scientists now says that any such risks are far outweighed by the nutritional benefits of fish and seafood.
In particular, these foods are the main sources of omega 3-fats essential for healthy brain development and function (EPA and DHA), for which average dietary intakes are already suboptimal. Fish and seafood also provide high quality protein and important trace elements including selenium (which helps to inactivate mercury), and are one of the few dietary sources of Vitamin D (otherwise derived from sunlight), which many women in developed countries are lacking.
Suspicions that the current official advice may be doing more harm than good were fuelled by results from a recent Lancet study,(Hibbeln et al, 2007) showing that higher intakes of fish and seafood by mothers during pregnancy were associated with better developmental outcomes in children.
A re-evaluation of official dietary advice is called for, and this time including the potential benefits, not just the risks.
1880Bishnoi et al 2007 - Protective effect of rutin, a polyphenolic flavonoid against haloperidol-induced orofacial dyskinesia and associated behavioural, biochemical and neurochemical changesProtective effect of rutin, a polyphenolic flavonoid against haloperidol-induced orofacial dyskinesia and associated behavioural, biochemical and neurochemical changesProtective effect of rutin, a polyphenolic flavonoid against haloperidol-induced orofacial dyskinesia and associated behavioural, biochemical and neurochemical changesBishnoi M, Chopra K, Kulkarni SK.01/10/2007Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 21(5):521-9.
The occurrence and irreversibility of tardive dyskinesia (TD), a motor disorder of the orofacial region, resulting from chronic neuroleptic treatment has been considered a major clinical issue in the treatment of schizophrenia.
The molecular mechanism underlying the pathophysiology of TD is not completely known. Several animal studies have demonstrated an enhancement of oxidative damage and increased glutamatergic transmission after chronic administration of neuroleptics.
The present study investigated the effect of rutin, an antioxidant in haloperidol-induced orofacial dyskinesia by using different behavioural (orofacial dyskinetic movements, stereotypic rearing, locomotor activity, percent retention), biochemical
and neurochemical (neurotransmitter levels) parameters.
Chronic administration of haloperidol (1 mg/kg i.p. for 21 days) significantly increased vacuous chewing movements, tongue protrusions and facial jerking in rats, which were significantly inhibited by rutin. Chronic administration of haloperidol also resulted in dopamine receptor sensitivity as evident by a well-shaped response (initial decrease followed by increase) in locomotor activity and stereotypic rearing and also decreased percent retention time on elevated plus maze paradigm. Pretreatment with rutin reversed these behavioural changes.
Besides, haloperidol also induced oxidative damage in all regions of brain which was prevented by rutin, especially in the subcortical region containing striatum. Although turnover of dopamine and noradrenaline decreased in both cortical and subcortical regions after chronic administration of haloperidol, it was significantly reversed by high-dose rutin treatment.
The findings of the present study suggested the involvement of free radicals in the development of neuroleptic-induced orofacial dyskinesia, a putative model of TD, and rutin as a possible therapeutic option to treat this hyperkinetic movement disorder.
rutin, antioxidant, haloperidol, neuroleptic, drug side-effects, neurotoxicity, neuroprotection, animal study, experimental studyhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17868205View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1635Ravikumara et al 2007 - Ninety percent of celiac disease is being missedNinety percent of celiac disease is being missed Ninety percent of celiac disease is being missed Ravikumara M, Nootigattu VK, Sandhu BK.01/10/2007J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 45(4):497-9.
Serological screening of 5470 children age 7.5 years from a cohort of 13,971 children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) suggested the prevalence of celiac disease (CD) to be at least 1%. ALSPAC is an anonymous study, and hence seropositive children could not be individually identified or undergo biopsy. Inasmuch as all children within ALSPAC suspected of having CD are referred to just 1 center, we aimed to identify children with biopsy-confirmed CD who were likely to be in this cohort and to estimate the magnitude of discrepancy between serology-positive cases and biopsy-confirmed cases. The results suggest that more than 90% of CD in children goes undiagnosed.
This study followed up on findings from the anonymous screening carried out in children from the ALSPAC Birth Cohot Study (see Bingley et al 2004), showing that 1% of children from a general population sample had blood antibody responses consistent with coeliac disease.
Here, the findings suggest that 90% of those children with positive antibody responses had not been identified by their medical practitioners as potentially gluten-sensitive - presumably because they did not show, or report, the overt digestive symptoms classically associated with coeliac disease. As these authors note, untreated coeliac disease has many potential health hazards, so these findings add to the case for population-based screening at an early age.
In some individuals, autoimmune reactions triggered by gluten-sensitivity appear to be associated with otherwise unexplained neurological or psychiatric symptoms; and some reports indicate that gluten sensitivity is unusually common in schizophrenia or related conditions such as autism. (see 'Coeliac' disease and schizophrenia')
The high prevalence of 'silent coeliac' reported here suggests that investigation of possible gluten sensitivity may be particularly worthwhile in 'at risk' groups such as children or adults with neurodevelopmental or psychiatric disorders.
coeliac disease, celiac disease, diagnosis, gluten sensitivity, human study, observational studyhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18030224View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1284Sinn 2007 - Physical fatty acid deficiency signs in children with ADHD symptomsPhysical fatty acid deficiency signs in children with ADHD symptomsPhysical fatty acid deficiency signs in children with ADHD symptomsSinn N01/10/2007Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 77(2):109-15. Epub 2007 Sep 6
Fatty acid deficiency symptoms (FADS) of dry hair and skin, frequent thirst and urination have been observed to be higher in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Two studies investigated FADS in 7-12-year-old children; Study 1 in a general population (N=347) and Study 2 in children with ADHD symptoms (N=104). Correlations between FADS and ADHD-related symptoms were found at baseline in Study 1 but not Study 2. FADS did not improve after supplementation with omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) versus placebo after 15 weeks in Study 2, and were not related to improvements in ADHD symptoms in the PUFA groups. However, FADS did improve in all groups, possibly attributable to the linoleic acid present in both the PUFA and placebo (palm oil) supplements. FADS are not a reliable selection criterion for children with ADHD who might benefit from omega-3 PUFA supplementation.
Fatty acids, omega-3, omega-6, ADHD, children, fatty acid deficiency signshttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17825546?ordinalpos=16&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSumView this and related abstracts via PubMed here
113820th, 21st and 25th Sept 2007 - Public Lectures by Dr Alex Richardson in IrelandCork; Galway; Dublin; Public Lectures;Food and Behaviour Research20/09/200725/09/2007
Food For Thought
Can omega-3 from fish oils improve mood, behaviour, attention and learning as well as general health?
We are delighted to announce that Dr Alex Richardson will be giving three public lectures in Cork, Galway and Dublin in September 2007. Dr Richardson will demonstrate the 'real evidence' and sort the 'facts' from the 'myths' surrounding 'omega-3'.
What are 'Omega-3'? And which ones are crucial for a healthy heart, brain and immune system?
Can fish oils really improve children's behaviour and learning? What's the evidence in children with ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia or autism?
Can EPA and DHA help reduce depression, anxiety and memory problems?
Which fats and oils should vegetarians choose for health and why?
Energy and weight control: which fats don't make you fat? And which ones do?
Dietary choices, supplements and 'functional foods' - what's best for you?
Your own questions answered
Dates and Venues:
Thursday 20th September - Cork: Kingsley Hotel, Victoria Cross Friday 21st September - Galway: Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit Tuesday 25th September - Dublin: Red Cow Hotel, Red Cow
All venues open at 7.00pm - Talks start 7.30pm
Cover charge: _10 - donated to FAB Research
To reserve seats, please call Shield Health Ltd on 045-892267
Each presentation will last approximately 2 hoursCork, Galway and DublinFor list of venues, see below:Shield Health Ltd045-892267FAB Research Talks in Ireland - Sept 2007.pdfDownload flyer with event details hereFish for Dublin.jpg
115619 September 2007 - Omega-3 Centre - Australian kids in dire need of more Omega-3somega 3 and children - Australia expert report - omega-3 centreA NEW report released today has found Australian children should be consuming more fish and other foods rich in long chain omega-3s to increase their intake by as much as five times their current level.19/09/2007
This major dietary shortfall is causing growing concern for health experts who report that the low intake of foods rich in long chain omega-3s, called EPA and DHA, is contributing to a range of health problems prevalent in Australian children.
The new report, produced by an international team of nutrition scientists and health experts, recommends an intake of at least 500mg of omega-3 DHA and EPA per day for children aged 14 years and over. Most children do not consume enough fish and estimates of their average omega-3 DHA and EPA intakes are between 34 and 118 mg/day - with many children consuming much less.
The evidence is strong enough to suggest healthcare professionals should consider omega-3s as an adjunct in the treatment of children with developmental brain disorders such as ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia.
Professor Andrew Sinclair, Professor of Human Nutrition at Deakin University and an international omega-3 expert, said omega-3s are an essential nutrient required by the body for healthy functioning at all stages of life, but they are especially important for growing children in the formative years.
"The intake of omega-3s in Australian children is very low because most kids these days are such fussy eaters. They often just don't like fish, and certainly steer away from other seafoods which are naturally rich in these healthy long chain omega-3 nutrients called DHA and EPA," Professor Sinclair said.
One recent NSW study found that most children consume fish less than once a week making it almost impossible to reach optimal intakes of long chain omega-3s.
"The strongest evidence links omega-3 intake with heart health and brain function. But we know omega-3s are essential for the proper operation of all cells in our bodies, and they are likely to have a role in many other areas of human health and disease," he said.
Official recommendations too low
"Our recommendation on consumption of 500mg per day of EPA and DHA (long-chain omega-3s) for children is based on the level required to confer a beneficial effect for adults on heart health. Parents need to be aware of this current enormous shortfall and find more creative ways to help their children consume more essential omega-3 nutrients. The richest sources are fish and other seafood, foods enriched with long chain omega-3s and lean red meat," Professor Sinclair said.
The scientists are also calling on the Federal Government to set recommended dietary guidelines for intakes of long-chain omega-3s at a level that will benefit the health of Australian children. They said current recommendations are too low.
The report outlines the conclusions of a Scientific Consensus Workshop, convened by The Omega-3 Centre in April this year, analysing the body of evidence linking omega-3 nutrients to a critical role in the physical and mental wellbeing of children.
Dr Natalie Sinn, from the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre at the University of South Australia, contributed to the report saying there is strong evidence linking omega-3 nutrients to a number of structural and functional roles in the development of the brain.
"Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and other foods are not only important for physical health, but also for healthy brain function and development. Omega-3s may help with learning problems and behavioral difficulties, particularly if children are excessively hyperactive, impulsive and have difficulty concentrating," Dr Sinn said.
Omega-3s benefit childhood disorders
"My own research has confirmed that up to 40-50% of children who suffer from symptoms associated with ADHD may improve with omega-3 supplementation over a 30 week period.
"This evidence is strong enough to suggest that healthcare professionals should consider long chain omega-3s as part of the treatment pathway for children with ADHD symptoms, which occur in many developmental disorders such as Asperger's Syndrome, dyspraxia, dyslexia and autism," Dr Sinn said.
Ms Wendy Morgan, Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Executive Director of The Omega-3 Centre, said omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat. Our bodies can only convert very small amounts of the shorter chain omega-3s to the more effective long chain omega-3s, EPA and DHA, so most needs to come from our diet.
"Long chain omega-3s are essential nutrients for a number of health functions, and the report shows they are required by all cells in the body. They have a role in brain growth and development, behaviour and learning with emerging evidence of their role in bone health, asthma and mood," Ms Morgan said.
"We only need around one per cent of our total recommended fat intake to be long chain omega-3s, but most people still don't consume nearly enough despite having plenty of the other types of fat in their diets," she said.
The Scientific Consensus Workshop was born out of the need to better understand the role omega-3s have on children's health in Australia, with all experts agreeing they require far more omega-3s than current dietary intake research indicates.
"In this climate, where our children's health is at stake, the essential role omega-3 plays to ensure healthy physical and cognitive growth and development is just too important to ignore," Ms Morgan said.
"Australia rates highly when it comes to omega-3 research, and we are very glad to have had some of the world's foremost authorities contribute to the development of this scientific consensus paper. We want to raise community and government awareness and understanding of this key nutritional issue that affects us all", Ms Morgan said.
A summary of the Consensus Meeting outcomes, and excerpts of the report, are available on The Omega-3 Website: www.omega-3centre.com
http://www.omega-3centre.com/latestresearch.htmlRead excerpts of the report here14506370.jpg
11486 September 2007 - BBC News - Parents warned of additives linkAFC; AFCA; food additives; atificial food additives; food colouringParents have been warned of the effects of food additives on their children's behaviour after new research found a possible link to hyperactivity.06/09/2007
Food Standards Agency (FSA) study on 300 randomly selected children found hyperactivity rose after a drink containing additive combinations.
The FSA now says hyperactive children might benefit from fewer additives.
But experts said drugs rather than diet changes could improve behaviour more effectively in the most severe cases.
Between 5% and 10% of school-age children suffer some degree of ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - researchers suggest, with symptoms such as impulsiveness, inability to concentrate and excessive activity.
More boys than girls are diagnosed with the condition, and children with ADHD can struggle academically, often behaving poorly in school.
Food colourings and other chemicals added to many cakes, sweets and drinks have long been blamed for making the disorder worse.
Sunset yellow (E110) - Colouring found in squashes
Carmoisine (E122) - Red colouring in jellies
Tartrazine (E102) - New colouring in lollies, fizzy drinks
Ponceau 4R (E124) - Red colouring
Sodium benzoate (E211) - Preservative
Quinoline yellow (E110) - Food colouring
Allura red AC (E129) - Orange / red food dye
This is not the first study to make a link between additives and hyperactive behaviour, but a wider age range of children were selected than in previous research, and not all had behavioural problems.
The Food Standards Agency paid for Southampton University researchers to examine whether giving additives to a group of ordinary three-year-olds and eight or nine-year-olds had any effect on their behaviour.
The children were randomly given one of three drinks, either a potent mix of colourings and additives, a drink that roughly matched the average daily additive intake of a child of their age, or a "placebo" drink which had no additives.
Their hyperactivity levels were measured before and after the drink was taken. Mix "A", with the high levels of additives, had a "significantly adverse" effect compared with the inactive placebo drink.
The older children showed some adverse effects after the second, less potent mix, although the response varied significantly from child to child.
Lead researcher Professor Jim Stevenson said the study, published in the Lancet, showed that certain mixtures of artificial food colours, alongside sodium benzoate, a preservative used in ice cream and confectionary, were linked to increases in hyperactivity.
He added: "However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent hyperactive disorders.
"We know that many other influences are at work but this at least is one a child can avoid."
He said it was not possible to say which of the ingredients in the additives cocktail affected the children.
The results of the research meant a change in official advice from the FSA, which has already met representatives of the UK food industry to talk about its implications.
The researchers pointed out that while artificial colours might be removed from foods easily, the removal of sodium benzoate would cause far more problems for the industry.
Julian Hunt, from the Food and Drink Federation, said they accepted the FSA's advice but said the tests did not represent how additives were used normally.
"Manufacturers are very aware of consumer sensitivities about the use of additives in food and drink products. It is important to reassure consumers that the Southampton study does not suggest there is a safety issue with the use of these additives."
However, Andrea Bilbow, from ADHD support group ADDISS, said most parents of children with ADHD had tried diet changes, and while more than half had reported some improvement, this tended to be modest when compared with the effect of medication.
She said: "In some respects the question of food additives is a little bit of a red herring.
"While in some cases, a poor diet could make ADHD even worse, a better diet is not going to make it much better."
And Dr Paul Illing, of the Royal Society of Chemistry, raised questions about the validity of the study.
"Extrapolating from the small study population to the general public is very difficult."
Results from this new randomised controlled trial - supported by the UK Food Standards Agency - provide further evidence that certain artificial food colourings and other additives can contribute to disruptive behaviour in children. Previous research has already shown adverse effects of such additives in
This new trial confirms the earlier findings in 3 year olds and extends these to older children (aged 8-9 years) from the general population. The authors conclude 'the implications of these results for the regulation of food and additive use could be substantial'
The FSA's response (and much of the article below) focuses primarily on children with overt hyperactivity / ADHD. This seems to miss the point somewhat - as this research specifically involved children from the general population. Any regulatory changes would need to be at EU level, but the FSA is said to be discussing with the food industry how levels of these these additives might be reduced.
11516 September 2007 - eNews.ma - New study links food additives to hyperactivity in childrenAFC; AFCA; food additives; artificial food additives; food colouringsPARIS (AFP) - A cocktail of artificial colours and the commonly-used preservative sodium benzoate are linked to hyperactivity in children, according to a ground-breaking study published on Thursday by The Lancet.06/09/2007
The implications are far-reaching, say the investigators, who suggest that by vetting their child's diet, parents have a simple tool to help them tackle hyperactive behaviour.
Researchers at Southampton University in southern England recruited 153 local three-year-olds and 144 children aged eight or nine and assigned them to either of two groups.
One group received an ordinary fruit juice and the other was given a drink identical in look and taste that contained common commercial additives. Both drinks were supplied to parents in identical, sealed anonymous bottles.
The "additives" group itself was split into two batches.
Some children were given "Mix A," a drink which contained artificial colourings typically found in a couple of 56-gramme (two-ounce) bags of sweets.
Others were given "Mix B" which had a higher level of colourings, equivalent (in the dosage for the eight-year-olds) to consuming the additives in four such bags of sweets.
Both mixes had the same amount of sodium benzoate.
Before the six-week trial began, the researchers asked parents and teachers to assess the child for overactive, impulsive and inattentive behaviour -- the hallmarks of hyperactivity.
A third yardstick was given by trained observers (in fact, psychology graduates), who sat discreetly in the classrooms and noted each child's behaviour according to an international set of measures.
For the first week of the trial, the children followed their typical diet.
After that, sweets and drinks with additives were withdrawn, and parents were asked to substitute with the trial drink instead.
The amount of the drink given to the child was in proportion to the amount of artificial colouring removed from their usual diet. The parents did not know whether the drink was Mix A, Mix B or the placebo.
Six weeks later, the children were assessed again for hyperactivity.
Mix A had a "significantly adverse" effect on the three-year-olds, although Mix B made no difference on this group. In the older children, both Mix A and Mix B had a strong effect.
"Overall, children who took the mix moved about 10 percent closer to the definition of being hyperactive," lead author Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the university, told AFP.
"We now have clear evidence that mixtures of certain food colours and benzoate preservative can adversely influence the behaviour of children," said Stevenson.
"However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent all hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work, but this at least is one a child can avoid."
The first caution about food additives and their impact on child health were made more than three decades ago, but evidence to give flesh to this warning has been scant or contested as unscientific.
In the past decade, hyperactivity has -- apparently -- ballooned into serious proportions in some countries, stirring controversy along the way.
US doctors commonly see hyperactivity as a medical condition (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD) and prescribe a potent drug, ritalin, to treat it.
Other experts speculate that hyperactivity has social causes such as home instability and poor education, and say use of powerful, mind-altering drugs is dangerous.
In the new study, Mix A comprised 45mg of sodium benzoate and 20mg of artificial food colourings, namely sunset yellow (European food code E110), carmoisine (E122); tartrazine (E102); and ponceau 4R (E124).
Mix B comprised 45mg of sodium benzoate and 30mg of colourings, namely sunset yellow (E110); carmoisine (E122); quinoline yellow (E110) and allura red AC (E129). Sugar and sugar substitutes were not part of the study's focus.
http://www.enews.ma/new-study-links_i67852_6.htmlRead the eNews.ma article hereaid-67852_0.jpgLancet
11476 September 2007 - The Lancet - Food Additives Increase Levels Of Hyperactivity In Children In The General Populationfood additives; artificial food colour; AFCA; AFC; behaviour06/09/2007
Artificial food colour and additives (AFCA) commonly found in children's food exacerbate hyperactive behaviours in children at least up to middle childhood, according to an online article published today (Thursday, September 6, 2007) by The Lancet
Importantly, these adverse effects are reported in children in the general population and across a wide range of severities of hyperactivity, and not just in those with extreme hyperactivity (ADHD) as established in previous studies.
Evidence from a previous study* suggests increased levels of hyperactivity, measured by parental ratings for 3-year-old children on a specific mix of food additives. However, whether these effects can be seen with a wider range of measures of hyperactivity and in older children is unknown. The question is important because of the possible benefit a reduction in the level of hyperactivity in the general population, by removal of AFCA from children's diets, would create.
Increased levels of hyperactivity are associated with the development of educational difficulties, especially in relation to reading, therefore adverse effects could affect a child's ability to benefit from schooling.
Jim Stevenson (University of Southampton, Southampton, UK) and colleagues examined the effects of additives in children's behaviour in a community-based, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial funded by the Food Standards Agency. 153 3-year-old and 144 8/9-year-old children were included in the study. The challenge drinks contained sodium benzoate and one of two AFCA mixes or a placebo drink. Mix A was similar to the active challenge used in the previous study* and mix B contained the current average daily consumption of food additives by 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the UK. Behaviours were measured by a global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA) based on ratings by teachers and parents, plus a computerised test for attention of the 8/9-year-old children.
The investigators reported that mix A had a significantly adverse effect compared with placebo in GHA for all 3-year-old children, but effects for mix B did not because there was greater variability in the response to the active challenges than placebo in this group. 8/9-year-old children showed a significantly adverse effect when given mix A or mix B when analysis was restricted to those children consuming more than 85% of drinks with no missing data. According to the investigators substantial individual differences were recorded in the response of children to the additives.
The authors conclude: "Although the use of artificial colouring in food manufacture might seem to be superfluous, the same cannot be said for sodium benzoate, which has an important preservative function. The implications of these results for the regulation of food additive use could be substantial".
Results from this new randomised controlled trial - supported by the UK Food Standards Agency - provide further evidence that certain artificial food colourings and other additives can contribute to disruptive behaviour in children. Previous research has already shown adverse effects of such additives in
This new trial confirms the earlier findings in 3 year olds and extends these to older children (aged 8-9 years) from the general population. As the authors conclude, 'the implications of these results for the regulation of food and additive use could be substantial'
11526 September 2007 - The Telegraph - Parents warned about artificial food additivesAFC; AFCA; food additives; artificial food additives; food colouringsParents were told by a Government watchdog that their children may be at risk from fizzy drinks and processed foods that contain artificial additives.06/09/2007Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Correspondent writes:
The warning follows an in-depth study by Southampton University that discovered the clearest link yet between certain artificial colourings and preservatives and the behaviour of children.
The research, led by Prof Jim Stevenson, found evidence of increased hyperactivity in children after they consumed a cocktail of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate, a preservative found in many lollies and soft drinks.
However, the Food Standards Agency, which commissioned the report, has come under fire from academics and campaigners for shying away from banning any of the suspect e-numbers.
Richard Watts, of the Children's Food Campaign, said: "Parents have said for some time that this is what is happening to their children, but it is disappointing that it has taken so long for an official body to recognise that.
"And we are also very disappointed that the FSA has not given stronger advice to parents."
In the study, published in the Lancet, children of three and eight were given drinks that contained a mixture of additives found in common beverages and foods, including Lucozade and Sprite, Hubba Bubba bubble gum and Tesco mushy peas.
The investigation, the largest of its kind, looked at all types of children - not simply those showing signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which is estimated to affect between 300,000 and 600,000 children in Britain.
Prof Stevenson said the children showed signs of not being able to concentrate and of rushing around more than when they were on an additive-free diet.
"We know that many other influences are at work," he said, "but this at least is one a child can avoid." The FSA, as a result of the research, has advised parents of children who show signs of hyperactivity "that eliminating the colours used in the Southampton study from their diet might have some beneficial effects".
But Dr Alex Richardson, an Oxford academic and author of They Are What You Feed Them, said: "They have not gone far enough. The point of the Southampton study was that it stretched to the general population, yet the FSA has restricted its advice to just some parents.
"It is a no-brainer for all parents to avoid these additives."
The FSA said it was up to the European authorities to legislate and defended its stance.
"This is a proportionate response", said Terrence Collis, a spokesman. "To ban all additives would scare many parents and let's be clear, these additives are not poisoning our children."
Mr Watts said: "To blame Europe is a red herring. There is a lot more the FSA could do, such as banning any foods with additives from advertising."
The additives tested by Southampton included E110, often called sunset yellow, E102, or tartrazine and E129, or allura red.
Julian Hunt, from the Food and Drink Federation, said: "It is important to reassure consumers that the Southampton study does not suggest there is a safety issue with the use of these additives."
Many food manufacturers are phasing out additives, most notably Nestlé, which scrapped the blue Smartie this year after deciding to stop using artificial colouring.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/06/nfood106.xmlRead The Telegraph article heree number.jpg
11506 September 2007 - The Times - Food additives make children behave badlyAFC; AFCA; food additives, artificial food additives; food colouringsBritain's food watchdog is warning all parents today of a clear link between additives and hyperactive behaviour in children.06/09/2007Valerie Elliott writes:
Research for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and published in The Lancet has established the "deleterious effects" of taking a mixture of artifical extras that are added to drinks, sweets and processed foods. It has led the FSA to issue the advice to parents who believe their children to be hyperactive that they should cut out foods containing the E numbers analysed in the study.
Scientists from the University of Southampton, who carried out research on three-year-old and eight-year-old children, believe that their findings could have a "substantial" impact on the regulation of food additives in Britain. But the FSA has been accused of missing an opportunity to protect children and all consumers by failing to impose a deadline on manufacturers to remove additives such as Sunshine Yellow and Tartrazine from their products.
In the biggest study of its kind the researchers recorded the responses of 153 three-year-olds and 144 eight to nine-year-olds to different drinks. None suffered from a hyperactivity disorder.
he children drank a mix of additives that reflected the average daily additive intake of a British child. The mixture was not a product currently on sale.
After consuming the drinks - a cocktail of controversial E numbers and the preservative sodium benzoate - the children were found to become boisterous and lose concentration. They were unable to play with one toy or complete one task, and they engaged in unusually impulsive behaviour. The older group were unable to complete a 15-minute computer exercise.
Results varied between different children but the study found that poor behaviour was observed in children who had no record of hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder.
The results are certain to cause concern and it is likely many parents will remove or cut down on food and drink products that might provoke such reactions in their children. The problem for many parents will be how to police children's eating; although most foods are labelled, some sweets are sold loose in shops and school canteens.
Schools can now expect to be inundated with requests for the ingredients of food and drink on offer to their pupils to be made known.
Jim Stevenson, head of psychology at the University of Southampton, who led the research, said yesterday that he thought there could be swift action against artificial colourants but that it could take longer to phase out use of the preservative sodium benzoate.
At a briefing to publicise the results, however, he said that the FSA's advice was the most sensible course of action at present. Hyperactive behaviour was also caused by genetic, developmental and emotional factors and a change of diet was not a panacea.
But Richard Watts, food campaigner for the pressure group Sustain, said that the advice would cause confusion. "The agency needs to toughen up the rules quickly. I don't know why they did not give food companies a deadline to remove the additives. I think as an urgent next step any food with these additives should be classed as junk food and banned from TV advertising to children." He was also concerned about soft drinks available in schools and wanted the School Foods Trust to review the use of sodium benzoate.
Ian Tokelove, spokesman for the Food Commission, said: "Manufacturers should clean up their act and remove these additives, which are neither needed or wanted in our food".
The FSA defended its stance and said the matter had to be resolved by the European Commission. Dr Clare Baynton, of the FSA, made it clear that the additives were safe and approved for use in food, and that further assessment was required. She put the onus on parents to monitor their children's diet. "It is for a parent to know what foods their children are susceptible to and whether their children react to to specific types of food."
The study builds on tests conducted on the Isle of Wight in 2002 which were inconclusive about links between additives and hyperactivity.
Julian Hunt, of the Food and Drink Federation said: "It is important to reassure consumers that the Southampton study does not suggest there is a safety issue with the use of these additives. In addition, the way in which the additives were tested as a mixture is not how they are used in everyday products."
http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article2395606.eceRead The Times article here19176072.jpgSweets
1146McCann et al 2007 - Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trialFood additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trialAFCA; AFC; Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trialMcCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, Crumpler D, Dalen L, Grimshaw K, Kitchin E, Lok K, Porteous L, Prince E, Sonuga-Barke E, Warner J O, Stevenson J06/09/2007The Lancet370(9598)1560-7
A randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial was undertaken to test whether intake of artificial food colour and additives (AFCA) affected childhood behaviour. Methods: 153 3-year-old and 144 8/9-year-old children were included in the study. The challenge drink contained sodium benzoate and one of two AFCA mixes (A or B) or a placebo mix. The main outcome measure was a global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA), based on aggregated z-scores of observed behaviours and ratings by teachers and parents, plus, for 8/9-year-old children, a computerised test of attention. This clinical trial is registered with Current Controlled Trials (registration number ISRCTN74481308). Analysis was per protocol. Findings: 16 3-year-old children and 14 8/9-year-old children did not complete the study, for reasons unrelated to childhood behaviour. Mix A had a significantly adverse effect compared with placebo in GHA for all 3-year-old children (effect size 0.20
95% CI 0.01-0.39
, p=0.044) but not mix B versus placebo. This result persisted when analysis was restricted to 3-year-old children who consumed more than 85% of juice and had no missing data (0.32
, p=0.02). 8/9-year-old children showed a significantly adverse effect when given mix A (0.12
, p=0.023) or mix B (0.17
, p=0.001) when analysis was restricted to those children consuming at least 85% of drinks with no missing data. Interpretation: Artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population.
Once again, a rigorously controlled trial has shown detrimental effects of certain food additives on children's behaviour - and importantly, this trial involved children from the general population - not just those with obvious behaviour problems such as hyperactivity or ADHD.
Earlier research studies investigating this issue include:
food additives, artificial food colourings, AFC, RCT, children, behaviour, hyperactivity, ADHDhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17825405?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSumView this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1259Kwun et al 2007 - Marginal zinc deficiency in rats decreases leptin expression independently of food intake and corticotrophin-releasing hormone in relation to food intake.Marginal zinc deficiency in rats decreases leptin expression independently of food intake and corticotrophin-releasing hormone in relation to food intake.Marginal zinc deficiency in rats decreases leptin expression independently of food intake and corticotrophin-releasing hormone in relation to food intake.Kwun IS, Cho YE, Lomeda RA, Kwon ST, Kim Y, Beattie JH.01/09/2007Br J Nutr. 98(3)485-9
Zn deficiency reduces food intake and growth rate in rodents. To determine the relationship between Zn deficiency and the regulation of food intake, we evaluated leptin gene expression in epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT), and hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (hCRH) and hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (hNPY) of rats Zn-deficient only to show reduced food intake and growth rate but not food intake cycling. Growing male Sprague-Dawley rats (240 g) were randomly assigned to one of four dietary groups: Zn-adequate (ZA; 30 mg/kg diet), Zn-deficient (ZD; 3 mg/kg diet), pair-fed with ZD (PF; 30 mg/kg diet) and Zn-sufficient (ZS; 50 mg/kg diet) (n 8), and were fed for 3 weeks. Food intake and body weight were measured, as were blood mononuclear cells and pancreas Zn levels. eWAT leptin, hCRH and hNPY mRNA levels were determined. Food intake was decreased by about 10 % in ZD and PF rats compared to ZA and ZS rats. Growth and eWAT leptin mRNA levels were unaffected in PF rats but were significantly (P < 0.05) decreased in ZD rats. However, hNPY showed a tendency to increase, and hCRH significantly (P < 0.05) decreased, in both ZD and PF rats. These results suggest that while leptin gene expression may be directly affected by Zn, hNPY and hCRH are likely responding to reduced food intake caused by Zn deficiency.
zinc, eating disorders, metabolism, endocrinology, mechanismshttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17475084?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=2&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmedView this and related abstracts via PubMed here
2067Rogers et al 2007 - No effect of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA and DHA) supplementation on depressed mood and cognitive function: a randomised controlled trialNo effect of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA and DHA) supplementation on depressed mood and cognitive function: a randomised controlled trialRogers et al 2007 - No effect of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA and DHA) supplementation on depressed mood and cognitive function: a randomised controlled trialRogers PJ, Appleton KM, Kessler D, Peters TJ, Gunnell D, Hayward RC, Heatherley SV, Christian LM, McNaughton SA, Ness AR01/09/2007Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb;99(2):421-31
Low dietary intakes of the n-3 long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) EPA and DHA are thought to be associated with increased risk for a variety of adverse outcomes, including some psychiatric disorders. Evidence from observational and intervention studies for a role of n-3 LCPUFA in depression is mixed, with some support for a benefit of EPA and/or DHA in major depressive illness. The present study was a double-blind randomised controlled trial that evaluated the effects of EPA+DHA supplementation (1.5 g/d) on mood and cognitive function in mild to moderately depressed individuals. Of 218 participants who entered the trial, 190 completed the planned 12 weeks intervention. Compliance, confirmed by plasma fatty acid concentrations, was good, but there was no evidence of a difference between supplemented and placebo groups in the primary outcome - namely, the depression subscale of the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales at 12 weeks. Mean depression score was 8.4 for the EPA+DHA group and 9.6 for the placebo group, with an adjusted difference of - 1.0 (95 % CI - 2.8, 0.8; P = 0.27). Other measures of mood, mental health and cognitive function, including Beck Depression Inventory score and attentional bias toward threat words, were similarly little affected by the intervention. In conclusion, substantially increasing EPA+DHA intake for 3 months was found not to have beneficial or harmful effects on mood in mild to moderate depression. Adding the present result to a meta-analysis of previous relevant randomised controlled trial results confirmed an overall negligible benefit of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation for depressed mood.
1145Hallahan and Garland 2007 - Essential fatty acids and mental health (editorial)Hallahan and Garland (editorial) - Essential fatty acids and mental healthHallahan, Garland, fatty acids, mental health Hallahan, Brian and Garland Malcolm R.28/08/2007British Journal of Psychiatry186275-277
The biological basis for the major psychiatric disorders is presumed to be a deficit or excess of neurotransmitters or abnormalities in their interactions with their respective receptors or transporters. Accordingly, the vast bulk of biological research, from genetics to psychopharmacology and from the study of signal transduction systems to in vivo molecular imaging, has placed the neurotransmitter and its target proteins centre-stage. This belies the fact that the dry weight of the mammalian brain is approximately 80% lipid (the highest of any organ) and also the steady accumulation of data demonstrating the crucial role of lipids, particularly long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), in modulating neural function. The essential fatty acids (EFAs) are LC-PUFAs obtained exclusively through diet and they comprise 15-30% of the brain's dry weight. Their effect on neuronal membrane dynamics and therefore on receptor, transporter and neurotransmitter function is profound (see below). Moreover, the well-documented shift in the Western diet away from EFAs (and the omega-3 family in particular) parallels the large rise in all psychiatric disorders seen over the past century. Finally, along with the resurgence of interest in lipid-neuronal membrane interactions, there are now a considerable number of quality randomised controlled trials demonstrating the efficacy of EFAs in a diverse number of psychiatric conditions. (Additional references to those in the reference list are available from the corresponding author on request.)
http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/186/4/275?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Essential+fatty+acids&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&volume=186&issue=4&resourcetype=HWCITFull editorial and downloadable pdf available here
114419 August 2007 - The Observer - Can fish oils really improve your mind?In Boots, Tesco, Superdrug and branches of Lloyds pharmacy you see them, marketed like sweets with brand names that leave no ambiguity about their purpose: Smartfish, eye q chews, Healthspan Brain Boosters, Boots Smart Omega 3 Fish Oil, Valupak Smart Omega 3 in Honey. Every year, we in Britain spend £116 million on fish-oil supplements (twice the amount we spend on over-the-counter hay-fever treatments) in the belief that the omega-3 fats they contain boost our children's intelligence - yet, to date, not a single study has shown that omega 3 improves brain function in the general population.19/08/2007
Andrew Purvis of The Observer Food Monthly reports:
If ever there was a breach of advertising standards, this, one might think, is it - yet such names are legal because they don't amount to a 'claim', a statement of health benefits that cannot be made without medical consensus.
Dr Alex Richardson, a senior research fellow at Oxford University and an authority on nutrition and the brain, is baffled by the loophole. 'Nobody has yet done a trial that looks at unselected children,' she confirms. 'Studies have focused on kids with specific difficulties,' she adds, referring to the handful of small but properly controlled trials that have taken place - using children with ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Of these, three showed slight improvements in children who took the fish oil, and two didn't - hardly a ringing endorsement of omega 3 as a brain food.
The largest experiment, the Oxford-Durham Study, was conducted in 2002 by Dr Richardson herself, who gave fish-oil capsules to children with DCD - a disorder affecting motor coordination, learning and social or psychological adjustment. In its wake came further 'Durham trials', all overseen by Dr Madeleine Portwood, an educational psychologist employed by Durham Local Education Authority, who had worked with Dr Richardson on the first trial.
'They hijacked the phrase,' Dr Richardson maintains, 'and there was a new supposed Durham trial every two minutes, all engendering confusion.' Crucially, only one used a control group (children who were not taking the fish oil, in order to make comparisons) and a placebo (dummy fish-oil capsules), and none was conducted double-blind (where neither the researchers nor the children know who has taken the pills) or has ever resulted in a published, peer-reviewed paper. In one, pre-school children were given a supplement and their behaviour was assessed by their parents.
In the most controversial example, Equazen - the manufacturer of eye q fish-oil supplements - was approached by Durham LEA and asked if it would donate £1m-worth of capsules to be doled out to 5,000 school-age children in the run-up to their GCSEs. Their performance will be measured against what it might theoretically have been without the omega 3. Again, there is no control group, no placebo and no double-blind component.
Despite such blatant flaws, these 'trials' were widely reported, invariably mentioning the eye q brand and declaring fish oil a wonder supplement. In December last year, Equazen was sold to the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Galenica, making a reported £10m-£20m for its chief executive Adam Kelliher. Only Ben Goldacre of the Guardian reported the debacle for what it was in his Bad Science column, and this led to further media exposure of the Durham project.
'This is not science,' said Professor Tom Sanders, an expert in nutrition at King's College London, at the time. 'Studies that are uncontrolled undermine properly conducted research and bring a lot of discredit to the scientific community. Parents are being seriously misled if they think they are taking part in a trial showing that fish oil will improve their children's performance.'
Nevertheless, hardly a month goes by without another 'trial' breathlessly reported by newspapers: in Bradford, pupils at Newhall Park Primary School were given omega 3 and '81 per cent showed improvements in reading, 67 per cent in writing and 74 per cent in maths', wrote the Independent - but again without proper controls and based on anecdotal evidence. In March this year, the Times reported 'astonishing' improvements in concentration, reading and memory in obese children who took a supplement called VegEPA. 'That study was based on four children,' says Dr Richardson, with no control group, the supplement named right in the middle of the article - and the only publication was pending.'
Yet the omega-3 bandwagon rolls on. Recently Premier Foods launched a baked-bean brand called Branstein -'the smart choice for parents who are keen to get more of the goodness of omega 3 into their kids', says Rob Stacey, marketing manager for Branston. A 210g serving provides 17 per cent of the recommended daily intake of omega 3 and an entire tin 34 per cent, but the company has been careful not to make claims about intelligence. Only the brand name hints at it.
Aimed at children who won't eat oily fish, Branstein is just the latest attempt to insinuate omega 3 into their diets by stealth. St Ivel Advance (or 'clever milk', promoted in an ad campaign fronted by Professor Lord Winston) is also fortified with omega 3. In June 2006, its manufacturer - Dairy Crest - was forced to withdraw advertisements after an adjudication by the Advertising Standards Authority, saying the claim that 'more omega 3 may enhance some children's concentration and learning' breached six clauses of the ASA code of practice and was misleading. Ironically, one of the complainants was Equazen, manufacturer of eye q pills.
Despite such stumbling blocks, omega 3 is big business. Frost & Sullivan, the global research consultancy, estimates that the market for omega-3 products (worth £116m in Britain) will grow by eight per cent a year until 2010. Datamonitor, another research company, identifies it as one of the 'big four' health-and-wellness trends in the packaged-food industry next year. At the same time, 25 European governments are funding the Lipgene project - a five-year study examining ways of modifying foods to contain more omega 3.
'They're looking at foods we commonly consume, such as meat, milk and yoghurt,' says Dr Joanne Lunn of the British Nutrition Foundation, a partner in the project. 'That way, we won't have to make huge dietary shifts because, if you tell people to eat more oily fish, they won't.' Genes from long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (specifically the EPA and DHA types found in oily fish and seafood, the easiest for the body to use) are being inserted into rapeseed, a crop used in cereal feed for livestock; trials are also underway with chicken.
At the University of Missouri, scientists have created transgenic pigs that can break down omega-6 fatty acids (which are common in our diet) into the long-chain omega-3 versions (which aren't). This they have done by inserting a gene from a roundworm, transforming bacon into a 'brain food' that children might actually eat. The biotech companies DuPont and BASF are engaged in what they call a 'fish-oil arms race' to derive omega-3 fats from soybeans, linseed and brassicas rather than fish, which is a dwindling, unsustainable resource due to overfishing. Their efforts have been hampered by technical problems.
It's a brave new world of agrotech madness, but why are companies - and governments - doing this? First, scientists are pretty much agreed (with the exception of one negative, much-criticised study, published in the British Medical Journal last year) that long-chain, omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect on the heart - and it is legal to make claims about this on packaging. Lipgene researchers think omega 3 could also combat the rise of 'metabolic syndrome' - a combination of type-2 diabetes, abnormal blood lipids and high blood pressure that is expected to affect 31m Europeans by 2010. 'We are eating too many saturated fats and not enough long-chain, omega-3 polyunsaturated fats,' says Dr Joanne Lunn. 'By manipulating the fatty-acid profile of the diet, we could improve public health outcomes.'
Second, while there is no robust evidence that omega 3 boosts intelligence, there is no doubt that these liquid omega-3 fats keep the brain lubricated and working properly. Since 65 per cent of the brain is made up of EPA and DHA, it makes sense that we require them in our diet. 'There is pretty compelling evidence now that a low intake of omega 3 contributes to just about every physical health condition, and probably mental health condition as well,' argues Dr Richardson. 'It genuinely is a critical nutrient for brain function.'
There are promising signs, for instance, that omega 3 may slow the onset of age-related memory decline as seen in early-stages of Alzheimer's, and three trials are under way on this - including one by the Food Standards Agency. In a recent study in the Lancet, women who exceeded the recommended intake of oily fish during pregnancy (two 140g portions a week) had children who did better in areas ranging from verbal intelligence and motor skills to pro-social behaviour. In depressed adults, a gram a day of EPA or DHA (recommended by the American Psychiatric Association) can significantly reduce symptoms.
'On current evidence,' Dr Richardson suggests, 'fish oils might be at least as much help in alleviating anxiety, stress and depression in all those worried mums as they are in improving behaviour and learning ability in their children.'
The trouble is, fish-oil supplements don't have nearly as much clout as oily fish - the mackerel, sardines, salmon and fresh tuna (canned tuna is less beneficial). 'Studies have shown that you need incredibly high doses of omega 3 given as a pure fish-oil supplement to get the same effects as with oily fish eaten regularly in the diet,' says Anna Denny, a nutrition scientist with the British Nutrition Foundation. 'The chances are, there is something else in oily fish that works in synergy with omega 3.'
Dr Richardson agrees: 'There is no question, you'd do better eating the whole fish. We always absorb nutrients better when they're packaged in the form that nature provides; that's what we are evolved to use. There are also other nutrients you'll get from oily fish which you're not going to find in a capsule.'
Unfortunately, advice given in the past about alternative sources of omega 3 (flax, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and their cold-pressed oils) is rapidly losing credibility. Plants are a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), another 'healthy' omega-3 fatty acid that is broken down by the body into the required EPA and DHA.
'The amounts we can synthesise from ALA are absolutely pitiful,' Dr Richardson warns. 'You can give pregnant women 20g a day of flax oil and you will change the DHA content of their breast milk not one iota. That study has been done. So all the people making fortunes flogging flax oil because it's got wonderful omega 3s, are just riding on the brain benefits, the heart benefits (of EPA and DHA). It's even more of a hype.'
With the new generation of omega-fortified foods, it is vital to study the label and make sure the omega 3 really is EPA or DHA. Next, Dr Richardson says, check the amount - 'and think of your target as half a gram a day for a healthy heart'. St Ivel advance milk, she adds, does contain the right EPA and DHA - 'but as for getting your half a gram a day from that alone, you won't. You'd need about three litres of the stuff to get anywhere near it.'
In short, you can give children omega-3-fortified orange juice for breakfast, omega-3 bread and Branstein beans for tea - but there is no substitute for oily fish twice a week. Studies have also shown that organic milk and suckling Swaledale lamb, reared only on milk and grass, have higher levels of omega 3 than conventional milk and lowland lamb.
However, what we subtract from the diet may be as important as what we add. The World Health Organisation recommends a 2:1 ratio of omega 6 (found in cereals, meat and milk) to omega 3 for optimum brain development, and 5:1 for general health. 'These days it is more like 15:1 in favour of the omega 6s,' Dr Richardson says, spawning 'lifestyle' illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, diabetes and heart disease. Until the agrotech wizards perfect their hi-tech algebra, making 6s into 3s, eating more fish and less grain is the only choice we have.
http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/food/story/0,,2149284,00.htmlRead The Observer article here19090199.jpgfish oil capsules
113515 August 2007 - BBC News - Craving for junk food 'inherited'junk food; pregnancy; inheritedMothers who eat junk food during pregnancy may be condemning their children to crave the same diet, according to animal tests.17/08/2007
Royal Veterinary College researchers found that when pregnant rats were fed a diet of biscuits, crisps and sweets, their babies ate more unhealthy food.
They said the British Journal of Nutrition study showed the rats' behaviour was "programmed" in the womb.
Dieticians have stressed the importance of a balanced diet for mothers-to-be. Scientists have already shown that, in humans, diet in early life can literally shape your future, setting your risk of obesity and heart disease.
However, the latest research suggests that, in rats at least, eating too much of the wrong food while carrying a child could be potentially harmful.
Chow or sweets
The female rats used in the Wellcome Trust funded research were either given a balanced diet of "rat chow" - an unappealing but reasonably healthy diet - or access to as many doughnuts, biscuits, muffins, sweets and crisps as they could consume.
This diet was continued in some rats up to birth, and then during the breastfeeding period until weaning.
Unsurprisingly, the rats given free rein to eat sweets consumed more food overall. Significantly, however, their babies showed marked differences in behaviour compared with the offspring of chow-fed rats.
The young rats were split into different groups - some of those from chow-fed mothers given nothing but their chow to eat, while the babies of junk-fed mothers, and the rest from chow-fed mothers, were given a mixture of chow and junk food to see which they chose.
Those in the chow-only group consumed the least food, while those from healthy-eating mothers given junk food again were tempted to eat more.
However, the final group - babies of junk-food mothers given the option of an unhealthy diet - ate the most food, eating nine days worth of food for every seven days worth consumed by the other babies on the junk food or chow menu. They ate roughly twice as much as those on the chow-only diets.
The researchers suggested that the "pleasure chemicals" released by the mother when eating fatty foods might have an effect on the developing brain of the foetus.
Professor Neil Stickland, who headed the research, said: "The government is trying to encourage healthier eating habits in school, but this shows that we need to start during the foetal and suckling life.
"Future mothers should be aware that pregnancy and lactation are not the time to over-indulge on fatty and sugary treats on the assumption that they are 'eating for two'."
However, Fiona Ford, a research nutritionist from the University of Sheffield, said that in the absence of strong evidence that the same effect was present in humans, it would be wrong to make women feel guilty about eating some unhealthy snacks during pregnancy.
She said: "A balanced diet is important during pregnancy. While this is interesting research, these mechanisms are so finely tuned that I don't think we understand them yet."
Dr Atul Singham, from the Institute of Child Health in London, also said that he was slightly sceptical about the likely scale of "foetal programming" in child diet until it could be proven in human studies.
He said: "This is what we are looking into - but at the moment there is no data in humans to support this, and obviously it is very difficult to carry out intervention studies such as these in pregnancy."
The study that has triggered this and other media reports is an important one. It builds on earlier work by the same group, which showed that if rats are fed junk food diets during pregnancy, this can impair the physical health of their offspring. Now they have shown that poor maternal diet can also affect the behaviour of those offspring, leading them to make unhealthy food choices, overeat and gain weight.
1141Kostyak et al 2007 - Relative fat oxidation is higher in children than adultsRelative fat oxidation is higher in children than adultsRelative fat oxidation is higher in children than adultsJohn C Kostyak, Penny Kris-Etherton, Deborah Bagshaw, James P DeLany, Peter A Farrell16/08/2007Nutrition Journal619
Prepubescent children may oxidize fatty acids more readily than adults. Therefore, dietary fat needs would be higher for children compared with adults. The dietary fat recommendations are higher for children 4 to 18 yrs (i.e., 25 to 35% of energy) compared with adults (i.e., 20 to 35% of energy). Despite this, many parents and children restrict dietary fat for health reasons. METHODS: This study assessed whether rates of fat oxidation are similar between prepubescent children and adults. Ten children (8.71.4yr, 3313 kg meanSD) in Tanner stage 1 and 10 adults (41.68 yr, 74 13 kg) were fed a weight maintenance diet for three days to maintain body weight and to establish a consistent background for metabolic rate measurements (all foods provided). Metabolic rate was measured on three separate occasions before and immediately after breakfast and for 9 hrs using a hood system (twice) or a room calorimeter where continuous metabolic measurements were taken. RESULTS: During all three sessions whole body fat oxidation was higher in children (lower RQ) compared to adults (mean RQ= 0.84 .016 for children and 0.87.02, for adults, p<0.02). Although, total grams of fat oxidized was similar in children (62.7 20 g /24 hrs) compared to adults (51.4 19 g /24 hrs), the grams of fat oxidized relative to calorie expenditure was higher in children (0.047 .01 g/kcal, compared to adults (0.032 .01 p<0.02). Females oxidized more fat relative to calorie expenditure than males of a similar age. A factor way ANOVA showed no interaction between gender and age in terms of fax oxidation. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that fat oxidation relative to total calorie expenditure is higher in prepubescent children than in adults. Consistent with current dietary guidelines, a moderate fat diet is appropriate for children within the context of a diet that meets their energy and nutrient needs.
The finding that children burn off fats faster than adults and that children require a moderate fat diet to meet their energy and nutrient needs is perhaps not surprising, although generalisation from these results is limited by the fact that only ten adults and ten children were studied.
These findings illustrate why 'low-fat' diets are not suitable for growing children, unless recommended and supervised by an appropriately qualified professional (such as a dietitian). A balanced diet with sufficient quantities of the right kinds of fats is necessary for a child's healthy growth and development.
dietary fat, children, metabolismhttp://www.nutritionj.com/content/6/1/19View the full text of this paper here
114015 August 2007 - BBC News - Fat 'crucial' in children's dietCrucial fats; good fats; bad fats; children's dietsWhile parents may be increasingly worrying about childhood obesity, they must ensure their offspring eat enough fat, research from the US urges.15/08/2007
Concerns about their child becoming overweight means some parents put them on low-fat diets, but the Nutrition Journal study said this was misguided.
Researchers found children burned substantially more fat than adults relative to their calorie intake. Youngsters needed that fat to grow and thrive, they argued.
Over a third of a child's energy intake should be made up of fat, the researchers at Pennsylvania State University said, a recommendation in line with UK requirements.
"Despite this, many parents and children restrict fat for health reasons," they said. "Sufficient fat must be included in the diet for children to support normal growth and development."
All of the participants - 10 children and 10 adults - were put on the same diet, adjusted to estimated calorie requirements of each one.
During testing, none of the group led an active lifestyle. They spent their time watching films, reading, and taking occasional slow walks.
While the children did not use up more fat than adults in total, they burned up substantially more relative to the amount of energy they used, despite all participants' sedentary lifestyle.
UK nutritionists stressed that fat, as much as possible, should come from "healthy" sources such as oily fish, while chips and crisps should be cooked in olive or sunflower oil.
"Too much saturated fat in the diet, e.g. from cakes, biscuits, pastries and fatty meats, should be avoided," said Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation.
The National Obesity Forum welcomed the study
"I think this research is absolutely right," said board member Tam Fry. "Young children need more fat and energy for the whole purpose of growing and living.
"To give them low-fat and sugar-free products is a bad idea."
Tracy Kelly, of the charity Diabetes UK said: "A healthy, balanced diet should include fat.
"However, a diet high in fat, particularly saturated and trans fats, should be avoided.
"The spiralling rates of type 2 diabetes in children, a condition which traditionally affected people in middle age, are strongly linked to poor diets high in fat, sugar and salt."
This study involved only ten adults and ten children, but the methodology used was sufficient to show that children burn off dietary fats faster than adults.
The conclusion that children require a moderate fat diet to meet their energy and nutrient needs is sound. 'Low-fat' diets are not suitable for children's healthy growth and development. The most important issue, however (ignored by much of the tabloid media coverage of this story) is the *type* or *quality* of that fat.
As emphasised by the nutritional commentators here, too much saturated fat is not healthy either. Worse still are the artificial 'trans fats' found in hydrogenated vegetable oils (used in many margarines and commercially baked or processed foods).
The healthiest diets provide plenty of unsaturated fats (strictly, liquid oils). These are found in oily fish, most nuts, seeds and wholegrains, and non-hydrogenated vegetable oils. Among these, both omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturates are essential (and needed for a healthy brain, heart and immune system) - but the balance between these two types is also crucial. Most modern western-type diets contain far more omega-6 than omega-3 - and the most valuable kinds of omega-3 are found in fish and seafood.
In short - there really are 'good fats' and 'bad fats', and parents need to know the difference. As the experts cited in this article point out, anyone concerned about preventing obesity and related disorders in their children would do far better avoiding highly processed 'junk foods' (rich in sugar, salt and 'bad fats' that all prolong shelf-life) than being fooled by 'low-fat' labels.
To read pdf documents on this site you may need to download
Adobe Acrobat Reader. Get it here.
Website Glossary If you hover your mouse over words that appear underlined
with a blue, dashed line, a definition of that word will appear as a 'tooltip'. You may find further information about the term in our
Food and Behaviour Research is a registered charity (No SC034604) and a company limited by guarantee (Co No SC 253448).
FAB Research | The Green House | Beechwood Business Park | Inverness | Scotland
| IV2 3BL | Telephone: 01463 667318 Website by Calligrafix
Medical opinion and guidance should always be sought for any symptoms that might
possibly reflect a known or suspected disease, disorder or medical condition. Information
provided on this website (or by FAB Research via any other means) does not in any
way constitute advice on the treatment of any medical condition formally diagnosed