Grannies up and down the country must be standing there with crossed arms nodding in grim satisfaction. They've been right all along it appears. Fish really is "brain food". Or so the powers that be in County Durham think. And they're busy generating the evidence to back this up. I gathered all this this morning from my favourite source of "medical" information, the Today Programme on Radio 4.
As I understand it there have been several small scale trials there involving primary school children (so they would need to be small scale then obviously) taking cod liver oil capsules or placebo for a few months. The fishy kids are now outperforming their placebo riddled fellows academically, and spending less time in the naughty corner to boot. (Hopefully the placebo supplied was not the "dangerous" additive laden Killer Blue Smartie then...)
So now they are moving on to trial the addition of omega3 to the secondary school kids. You know, all those stroppy tweens and teens we know and love. Three capsules, twice a day.
The teachers and dinner ladies of County Durham must be made of stern stuff indeed to be prepared to put themselves forward for such a monumental task. Round these parts they won't allow kids to take paracetamol or inhalers for known conditions without notes signed in triplicate by "the Doctor". A few years ago they even threatened not to work in a class with a boy who had a wasp sting allergy that required him to carry an epipen.
Then there's the small business of getting kids who happily chuck down burgers and kebabs to swallow little capsules. Because they're "pills" rather than "food" there is almost no way many will be induced to swallow even one, let alone six a day, every day, all term. Also they are proposing to dish them out at registration so all the truants and latecomers (surely the principal target population for the study) will be self excluded by their normal behaviour. Unless the truancy officers will be supplied dart guns laced with fish oil to stalk their prey with, that is.
I really hope thay can make it work. I really hope it helps to prove the point. It does seem to make sense that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, complex cabohydrates and proteins, would beat a diet of chocolates, crisps and fizz. Jamie Oliver's much hyped school dinners project really did apear to have an impact on both performance and behaviour.
Which leads me to ask one important question. Why on God's green earth do we feel it necessary to bugger about trying to supplement kids diets to improve performance instead of committing to giving them all a decent school meals service that would do the same, but better?
If we truly "believe the children are our future" (sorry, couldn't resist) then why do we not believe enough to want to invest in that future?
I applaud the intentions of those wishing to conduct the trial. I fear they will not last a week, let alone a term, but I do honestly wish them well. And who knows, if they can prove the point, again, then maybe someone in authority will discover the political will to start feeding kids properly.
Until then, drink up your cod liver oil like good children.
After all Granny knows best!