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Bad diet: Junk food damages children's brains, say scientists Diets high in processed foods are causing

bad behaviour and learning difficulties in children, scientists have warned. They claim unk food stops the brain working properly, leading to underachievement and a host of disorders. !uch foods not only lack the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that boost brain power but actually reduce the body's uptake of nutrients that improve concentration, a study has found. Thousands of children given medication to combat attention deficit disorder might be better off simply improving their diet, according to the research. The "#ford $niversity study showed that giving children essential fats found in fish and nuts could improve their brain power. Their ability to learn was increased and their behaviour dramatically improved by supplementing their diets with such fats. Startling results !tartling results in children who were underachieving and in some cases being disruptive were recorded after ust three months. The study involved more than %&& British children battling with physical co'ordination problems. They were given daily supplements rich in omega'( essential fats that are vital for brain development but have been reduced in the national diet over the last couple of decades. )n the study, around *& per cent of children given omega'( supplements made dramatic improvements in reading and spelling. There was also a significant improvement in concentration and behaviour, according to a report in this month's issue of the +merican ournal ,ediatrics. -esearchers were led by Dr +le#andra -ichardson, from "#ford $niversity's department of physiology. ./hat we've shown is that you can improve behaviour and learning with these oils,. she said. .0ood affects behaviour. To ignore the role of nutrition is indefensible. )f you paid attention to diet you could really make a difference.. ,atrick 1olford, who runs the Brain Bio 2entre which tackles mental health problems through nutrition, said: ./e're seeing outrageous imbalances in brain chemistry caused by the kinds of foods that sadly millions of kids are eating, and no one's doing anything about it.

.These kids are digging their own graves with a knife and fork. /e know some fats found in processed and fried foods should be avoided. .1owever, there are other fats that are essential and a deficiency can negatively impact on a child's behaviour.. The study involved %%3 children aged five to %4 in schools in 2ounty Durham. The children were of normal ability but underachieving and suspected of having dyspra#ia, a condition that affects co'ordination. )t is thought to affect at least 5 per cent of British pupils. 6ven greater numbers have learning and behavioural disorders such as dysle#ia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 1alf the children were given omega'( essential fats capsules for three months, while the remainder were given .dummy. treatment with capsules of olive oil. Making progress Those on omega'(s made up to ten months' progress in reading in three months, compared with those taking olive oil who made normal progress. /hen the children swapped treatments, there was a similar ump forward for those transferred to omega'(s for the second three'month period. +fter three months on the supplements, half showed such improvement they were no longer classified as having problems. )n some cases, children improved their reading age by up to four years. Dr -ichardson, who is also co'director of the 0ood and Behaviour -esearch charity, said unhealthy dietary fats can actually displace the healthy fats in the brain. 7nown as trans fats, they are mostly found in processed foods such as crisps, biscuits and cakes. 8any teenagers get *& per cent of their calories from fat. The researchers are worried that such poor diets could permanently damage brain development.