The improvements can be short-lived, however, and researchers were seeing the children return to their bad old behaviour patterns after six months or so, even when they were still taking the supplements.
That’s because the problem of aggression and bad behaviour is complex and doesn’t just involve the brain, say researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
Leading the research was Adrian Raine, a professor of criminology, psychology and psychiatry, who several years ago had enormous success with the nutritional approach when he tested it on a group of aggressive adolescents on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
He wanted to see if similar results could be achieved in children living a more typical Western life, and so he tested it on 290 children, aged 11 and 12, living in Philadelphia, who had a history of violence. Omega-3 juice and multivitamins were tested against cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
After three months, those given the omega-3 supplements reported a lessening of their anti-social and aggressive behaviour, although the benefits seemed to disappear after six months.
So, yes, omega-3 supplements definitely help, but they are only part of a jigsaw and perhaps therapies like CBT could also give the children some skills in learning how to cope better, said Prof Raine.