Dietary supplementation with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA had
no impact on reading, working memory or behaviour of under-performing UK
schoolchildren, suggests new research that contradicts previous
fatty acids are central to brain-development of children. Evidence from
clinical trials and systematic reviews demonstrates the potential of
long-chain Omega-3 supplementation for learning and behavior. However,
findings are inconclusive and in need of robust replication studies
since such work is lacking.
of the 2012 DOLAB 1 study findings that a dietary supplementation with
the long-chain omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) had beneficial effects
on the reading, working memory, and behavior of healthy schoolchildren.
Mainstream primary schools (n = 84) from five counties in the UK in 2012–2015.
Healthy children aged 7–9 underperforming in reading (<20th centile). 1230 invited, 376 met study criteria.
600 mg/day DHA (from algal oil), placebo: taste/color matched corn/soybean oil; for 16 weeks.
Main outcome measures
Age-standardized measures of reading, working memory, and behavior, parent-rated and as secondary outcome teacher-rated.
children were randomized. Reading, working memory, and behavior change
scores showed no consistent differences between intervention and placebo
group. Some behavioral subscales showed minor group differences.
RCT did not replicate results of the earlier DOLAB 1 study on the
effectiveness of nutritional supplementation with DHA for learning and
behavior. Possible reasons are discussed, particularly regarding the
replication of complex interventions.