Children IQ Tests, Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements & School Food Trials a Red Herring says London Nutritionist

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A leading London nutritionist has hit out at the hype surrounding using fish oil supplements and the supplementation of school children and in particular the Co Durham study of 5,000 children which claims to be boosting kids’ IQ with EYE Q an Omega 3 EPA fish oil supplement.

Yvonne Bishop-Weston founder of Foods For Life says “We need to work harder to provide nutritious food. On one hand the DfES new interim guidelines announced by Education Secretary Alan Johnson on Monday 4th Sept 2006 say that oily fish should be provided at least once every 3 weeks with no other significant mention of essential fats, balancing omega 3 and omega 6 and addressing an omega 3 DHA / EPA shortage in diet. On the other hand 5,000 school children in Durham are being plied with EYE Q Fish oils which are an unsustainable solution both financially and environmentally.”

Whilst we have to congratulate the Government for banning rectum, testicles, spleen, udder and feet from school meals, the introduction of free water to drink and a reduction in foods rich in saturated fat and sugar there is still much work that needs to be done.

Guideline provision for vegetarians and vegans (who are much more likely to eat the guideline 5 fruit and vegetable portions a day) appear woefully inadequate although at least the Government does now insist vegetarian options should be made available.

The Caroline Walker Trust, advisors to The School Foods Trust and Government, suggest a vegetarian option of ‘Baked Bean Lasagne’ which, whilst it maybe marginally nutritionally ahead of chips and beans, sounds like clutching at straws, is low in protein and about as appetising as tripe and spam would be to a meat eater.

Even in the private sector it seems school children fare no better. “I’ve seen quite a few children from expensive private schools where, if they didn’t have food parcels sent from home, the children would be nutritionally bankrupt. Nothing more than toast and jam for supper is apparently quite normal and lunch is often lacking basic key nutrients” reports Yvonne.

“The simple truth is that we need to get back to basics and ensure our children’s food is more nutritious. Parents must be held responsible too as school lunch is just one meal a day. Many children leave home without any breakfast at all or else nothing more than assorted saturated fat and sugar”

But Yvonne questions UK chef, Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners out burst as he accused parents of being “A***holes and Tossers”. She says Jamie is lucky to be amongst the first generation of chefs who had a modicum of nutrition during their training. “It’s unfair to blame parents when the people they look to for guidance such as family doctors and schools have a limited understanding of nutrition”

On the increased pill popping trend she says “High quality supplements are great for restoring balance and useful for treating nutrition deficiencies but as a benchmark we should be aiming to get nutrients from food rather than pills.”

Fish oil supplements are a particular example of wasting both resources and money. Apart from the effort needed to catch the fish, extract and then purify the fish oil to remove illegal levels of dioxins, heavy metals and PCB’s there just aren’t enough of the right kinds of fish left in the sea to supplement everyone who needs extra long chain omega 3 DHA and EPA.

The solution could be re-discovered types of algae grown economically and safely in stainless steel tanks and rich in both EPA and DHA. A company in London, Eau + are investigating suitable foods such as bread that can be safely enriched with the innovative ancient food ingredient. Algae was a food of life for the Incas, Aztecs, ancient Chinese, and the Japanese and is the reason why fish are so rich in the long chain omega 3 fatty acids DHA or EPA.

Perhaps more visits to independent health food stores may save the nation?

Editors – more information.

Alan Johnson Education Secretary

Announcement on new guidelines

http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/7424

School Food Trust

New Food-Based Requirements for School Lunches

http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/school_lunch.php

Teacher Net

Nutritional standards for school lunches and other school food and drink

http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/healthyliving/

Tony Loftas is Founding Editor of the journal Marine Policy.

Not Enough Fish In The Sea

http://www.ourplanet.com/imgversn/76/loftas.html

George Monbiot in The Guardian

Not enough fish in the sea – Algae is the answer

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2006/06/21/not-enough-fish-in-the-sea/
also at http://alternet.org/envirohealth/37862/

CBS News - John Heilprin - Associated Press

Commercial fishing has emptied the World’s seas.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/14/tech/main553902.shtml

V-Pure algae based fish oil free – long chain omega 3 fatty acids DHA EPA

http://www.water4.net

Foods For Life

http://www.foodsforlife.org.uk

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