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December 2007

Policy & News

The Associate Parliamentary Food & Health Forum will be launching their inquiry report into the links between diet and behaviour on 30 January 2008.  The inquiry will focus in particular on the influence of essential fatty acids on mental health.  More details about the launch can be obtained from

Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).  Sustain submitted a letter for consideration to SACN back in September and the committee discussed the submission (to consider a view to a possible future systematic review of the evidence for the links between food and mental health) at their 'horizon scanning' meeting in October.  Although the minutes are not yet available online ( SACN has informed Sustain that the Committee agreed at the October meeting this is an important area to pursue and hopes to consider, at their next meeting in February 2008, putting together a sub group to decide what approach to take. 

In a government effort to provide an extra incentive for all women to take up the professional health advice available during pregnancy, a new Health in Pregnancy Grant is designed to provide pregnant women with financial support, alongside important advice from a health professional, to help them invest in their individual needs during pregnancy.  The one-off payment of £190 will be available from April 2009 to every woman from the 25th week of pregnancy, once they have had the appropriate health advice from a health professional such as their midwife. In the 2006 Pre-Budget Report, the Chancellor announced that, in recognition of the importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy, from April 2009 every mother-to-be would be eligible for Child Benefit from the 29th week of her pregnancy. Treasury Ministers subsequently decided that provision should be payable as a new single payment called the Health in Pregnancy Grant.  The payment will be in addition to the support for women on low incomes provided by the Sure Start Maternity Grant and Healthy Start Vouchers.

Source: HM Revenue & Customs website 14 November 2007

Additive laden products are named and shamed by parents who are using a new website to expose products which contain suspect food additives. The products range from sugary sweets and fizzy drinks to children's toothpastes, vitamin pills and medicines. All of the products contain one or more of the seven food additives that can increase hyperactive behaviour in susceptible children.  The website,, hosts a growing list of over 275 foods, drinks and medicines which contain the suspect food additives.  Anna Glayzer, a spokesperson for the Action on Additives campaign, said, "There is clearly a real sense of outrage, as well as a strong desire to see things improve. We call on the manufacturers whose products are listed on the website, to remove these unnecessary and unwanted additives, and to seek safer alternatives."  For more information see

The FSA issued the following advice to parents, “If your child shows signs of hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you should try to avoid giving your child the… artificial colours because this might help improve their behaviour.”

See for more information from the FSA.

The adoption of draft opinions on the safety of six food colours is on hold pending the European Food Safety Agency's review of the Southampton study on certain food additives and hyperactivity in children.  EFSA's opinion on the study is expected in February 2008.

Prison service food costs.  David Hanson, the Minister with responsibility for prisons, has confirmed that the average public sector Prison Service daily food cost per prisoner was £1.97 in 2006-07, the last full financial year for which figures are available.

Source: Hansard 27 November 2007, col. 304W

During debate on the education and health measures contained in the Queen's Speech, Mrs Sharon Hodgson, welcomed the Government's recognition of the need to tackle obesity, promote skills and change lifestyles. Obesity rates, smoking rates, cancer rates and deaths from heart disease are all higher than average in her (Gateshead, East and Washington) constituency.   Mrs Hodgson called for free, universal provision of school meals.  She suggested children's diets could be improved by providing free, universal, locally sourced, hot school lunches, for all pupils under the age of 16, coupled with a policy whereby pupils are not allowed off the school site at lunchtime.  She added that “if the scheme is to work properly, packed lunches should be discouraged.” Mrs Hodgson argued that the long-term benefits of “boosting educational attainment, fighting child poverty and tackling health inequalities must begin to outweigh the cost” -  estimated by the House of Commons Library at between £900 million and £1.1 billion.  Speaking later in the debate, Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods endorsed Mrs Hodgson's suggestion that the Government should take note of the excellent universal free school meals system operating in Sweden.

The full text of Mrs Hodgson's speech is available at:

Source: Hansard 13 November 2007, col. 614-616 and col. 618


Events & Links

Food & Behaviour Research have posted details of their first event taking place in 2008 which will be 5 March at the Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh: Diet & Behaviour – Feeding Young Minds.   Other planned events for the rest of the year include the following:

  • 2 May 2008
    Midlands & the North
    Food, Mood and Behaviour – Putting Research into Practice in Education and Mental Health
    Buxton, Derbyshire (Palace Hotel)
  • 10 June 2008
    Wales & the West
    Better Nutrition and Better Learning – National Children's Nutrition Conference
    Cardiff (Millennium Centre)
  • 28 Sept 2008
    Highlands & the North
    Nutrition in Childhood – Meeting the Challenge
    Nairn, Highlands (Newton Hotel)
  • Oct 2008 (date tbc)
    London & Central / South
    Fat for Life? – The Role of Mothers' and Children's Diets on Brain and Body Development
    London (London Metropolitan University).

For more info about all of FAB events taking place in 2008 please refer to their website ( 

UK Learning Disability and Health Network
The network aims to assist health practitioners in both mainstream and specialist services with the health and learning disability agenda and concentrates on problem solving, information sharing and networking.  To register online to the network visit or email Janet Cobb for more information at


Publications, Consultations & Research

A new report from The Caroline Walker Trust published in November 2007 provides nutritional and practical guidelines for all those who support people with learning disabilities. Eating well: children and adults with learning disabilities provides up-to-date and evidence based information and advice for all those who want to know more about the importance of good nutrition for people with learning disabilities and the report was guided by a multi-disciplinary expert working group.  The information in this report summarises current knowledge about:

  • Learning disabilities and the impact learning disabilities can have on health;
  • The principles of good nutrition across the lifespan for people with learning disabilities;
  • Weight issues;
  • Gastrointestinal problems, swallowing problems and oral health.

The report also provides practical guidelines on:

  • Eating well throughout the day and in different situations;
  • Managing eating difficulties;
  • Measuring nutritional status;
  • Menu planning.

Who will find this report useful?  The report provides an evidence based rationale for making eating well a priority for people with learning disabilities for policy makers, commissioners, inspectors and regulators; the practical guidance will provide all those who work with and support people with learning disabilities with invaluable reference material and health professionals, health and social services staff, teachers, and community workers will find much in this report to support their practice.   This 160 page report can be ordered now for £20, including postage and packing, from

The Department of Health asked NICE to produce guidance on promoting the mental wellbeing of children in primary schools.  Following on from the recent consultation period on the synopsis of evidence, all registered stakeholders have been invited to comment on an additional effectiveness review paper: Mental wellbeing of children in primary education: consultation on an additional effectiveness review.  The deadline for sending comments regarding the Draft Guidance is 21st December.  For more information about how to send comments email or refer to

The Foundation for Integrated Health is collaborating with the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink and Royal College of Psychiatrists on guidelines to encourage the development of integrated health in NHS mental health services.  The first draft chapter - on nutritional therapy - will appear on the website ( as a consultation document in January 2008.  Final publication date for the completed guidelines is June 2008.  The guidelines will include:

  • Practical advice on how to set up integrated services;
  • Guidance on recruiting safe and effective complementary practitioners;
  • Research evidence on complementary medicine in mental health.

One third of hospital patients claim that the quality of hospital food they are served during their stay is unacceptable. One quarter of the 1,000 patients questioned by consumer group Which? claim they relied on friends and family to bring them food.   Clare Corbett, Which? Campaigner, said: "The Food Standards Agency has brought out some nutritional guidelines, but they are only guidelines, and the vital thing is the Department of Health needs to make sure they are actually implemented…Food is an essential aspect of making sure patients get better…We really need hospitals to act as beacons for healthy living and good nutrition.”

Malnutrition and associated chronic diseases
The Health Minister, Ann Keen, has published a table which shows how many people were admitted to and discharged from hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis of malnutrition or nutritional anaemias in each year since 1997-98.   A second table shows the count of finished consultant episodes where the primary diagnosis was malnutrition or nutritional anaemia and the proportion of these that also had secondary diagnosis of either coronary heart disease, stroke and ischemic attack, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, cancer, dementia, depression or chronic kidney disease. Information is provided for each year from 1997-98 to 2005-06.  The tables are available at:

Source: Hansard 20 November 2007. col. 828-829W

Doctors say no concern for folic acid fortification.  Two scientific papers which have raised question marks over the safety of fortifying flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, which affects some 900 pregnancies a year, provide no concern, UK doctors have said.  The FSA had recommended to go ahead with a program of mandatory fortifiction of bread or flour with folic acid to reduce incidence of NTDs, but a postponement was called over fears that the studies shone light on a connection between folic acid and colorectal cancer.  England's Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson in October asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) to consider in more detail two studies by Cole and Mason.  They concluded that the FSA and Chief Medical Officer can be "confident in recommending that the UK government introduce the mandatory fortification of flour, which could prevent about 400 pregnancies affected by neural tube defects each year, reducing both the number of terminations of pregnancy and of children born with these defects."

Hull ends free school meals experiment.  Hull ends its free 3 year school meals pilot scheme called 'Eat well, do well' (EWDW).  Evaluated by Professor Derek Colquhoun at the University of Hull, results showed children to be more alert, and those eating the school lunches did better in tests after lunch than those having packed lunches.  The teachers found the classrooms to be calmer, creating a better environment for learning.  Professor Colquhoun has said that now the free lunches have been withdrawn 'children are still telling us that they are hungry…One head teacher described the dining room now as chaotic and messy and another head says that behaviour is worse'. 

See p. 79, Issue 79 of The Food Magazine for an article about the end of the 3 year pilot programme.

Free school breakfasts in Wales – 3 year pilot scheme ends. Welsh Conservatives have called for the free schools breakfast initiative to be scrapped as the Welsh Assembly Government's (WAG) three year pilot scheme comes to an end.  Shadow Education Minister Alun Cairns AM described free school breakfasts as an “expensive and ill though out gimmick”.  Mr Cairns suggested the free school breakfast project should have focussed on specific, less affluent areas and that it would have been better to allow schools to spend the resources devoted to the project as they wanted.

Source: Conservative Party website 5 November 2007

A new study from China conducted on rats and looking at the effects of green tea poluphenols (GTP) suggests that it may protect neurons against the detrimental effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO), thereby offering potential benefits for Parkinson's, a degenerative condition. 
Source: The results are published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. 
15 December 2007, Volume 62, Issue 12, Pages 1353-1362
"Protective Effects of Green Tea Polyphenols in the 6-OHDA Rat Model of Parkinson's Disease Through Inhibition of ROS-NO Pathway"
Authors: Shuhong Guo, J. Yan, T. Yang, X. Yang, E. Bezard and B. Zhao

A study, collated from data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, focused on the effect of alcohol on omega-3 fatty acid intake in almost 4,200 men.  According to the researchers at the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking may lead to lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body.  The scientists also discovered that binge drinkers are more likely to have diets that contain lower amounts of fatty acids. "The changes we found indicate that those who drink alcohol make food selections in such a way as to decrease foods with this important nutrient," says Dr Norman Salem, chief of the Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Source: S Kim, R Breslow, J Ahn  and N Salem Jr.  "Alcohol Consumption and Fatty Acid Intakes in the 2001–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey" Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
August 2007, Vol. 31 Issue 8: 1407–1414

The silicon content of beer may protect against the deleterious effects of aluminium on brain health, suggests a new study on mice, from the University of Alcala in Madrid.  After three months the researchers report that animals receiving the supplementary silicon, whether from beer or the silicic acid, had significantly lower blood aluminium levels, and higher faecal excretion of aluminium.  The research taps into beer's silicon content, and reports that moderate consumption cut the uptake in the digestive tract of aluminium, a neurotoxin and recently linked as a possible causal factor for Alzheimer's.   The study, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, reports that "moderate beer consumption… could perhaps be taken into account as a component of the dietary habits of the population."  The researchers state however that "alcoholic beverage consumption needs to be kept within certain limits depending both on gender and on age and should never be promoted as a means of increasing certain nutrients, which can be obtained from other foodstuffs in the diet."
Source: Food and Chemical Toxicology
January 2008, Volume 46, Issue 1, Pages 49-56 
"Role of beer as a possible protective factor in preventing Alzheimer's disease"
Authors: M.J. Gonzalez-Munoz, A. Pena and I. Meseguer

Sugary drinks linked to Alzheimer's, say findings by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) who has found that mice given a sugar solution as part of their daily diets showed increased signs of developing Alzheimer's disease.  The researchers stated they "cannot be certain if the increased mental impairment resulted specifically from the higher sugar intake or higher calories in general".   However, they said their findings "highlight the potential risk of sugary beverages" and the results could place more pressure on soft drinks manufacturers, who are already under attack for their role in the rising obesity epidemic.

Increased intake of folate may reduce the incidence of depression by 50 per cent, suggests a new study of over 500 Japanese subjects.  The benefits were not extended to women, reports the study in the journal Nutrition, and no benefits from an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids was observed for either gender.

In an interview with Dr. Jörn Dyerberg, a medical and scientific adviser for omega-3 fatty acids at Cognis Nutrition & Health and Napro Pharma AS, he said that recommendations will become broader and broader, including supplements during pregnancy and early childhood. This is because of the benefits reported for mental development, and there are studies that show omega-3 supplementation can influence breast milk composition and subsequently a child's brain, he said.  "My grandchildren have a lot of omega-3, and they're very smart!"  Less certain, he said, was the potential of omega-3 to prevent the development of cancers despite some epidemiological and animal studies reporting interesting data for breast and prostate cancer.  "Studies are beginning to emerge," said Dr. Dyerberg, "but there is a big question over whether they offer primary prevention."  The future of omega-3 will also involve resource issues. "The sea is limited, and alternative sources could be needed."

You are what your mother eats: study.  A mother's likes and dislikes, particularly for fruit and vegetables, is passed on to her infant during breastfeeding, suggests new research from the US.

Source: Pediatrics
December 2007, Volume 120, Number 6, Pages 1247-1254 (doi:10.1542/peds.2007-0858), "Early Determinants of Fruit and Vegetable Acceptance"
Authors: Catherine A. Forestell, and Julie A. Mennella

Workers skip breakfast.  Breakfast is a meal that many consumers are missing, a new study has found. Although often called the most important meal of the day it seems that this is not the case for many staff, with only 63 per cent of those surveyed in a new Ipsos Mori reports making time for the meal. The survey, commissioned by BaxterStorey, discovered that 17 per cent of respondents regularly skip food in the morning and another 17 per cent will only make time to eat first thing one to three times a week. However, it has been suggested that such trends affect the productivity in the work place.

Source: Ipsos Mori Report November 07

Britons are not eating enough fish, a new survey has found. Conducted by Efalex, the omega-3 and 6 oil supplement producers, only 30 per cent of the population are eating the government recommended amount of fish. However, 90 per cent of respondents agreed that fish is an important part of their diet. Reasons for not eating fish were given as the cost of it, the smell of it and finding bones in it.

Source: Efalex November 07


Interesting Projects

Community Food and Health, Scotland state in their publication 'a taste for independence: using food to develop skills for life' that 'a balanced diet, particularly one that contains foods such as oil-rich fish, whole grain foods and green leafy vegetables are associated with good mental health'.  The publication, which includes details about projects section.

230 MEND Programmes - Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it - are due to start in community locations across the country from January 2008.  The MEND Programme is a course designed to help families learn how to be fitter, healthier and happier, developed by experts in child health.  Check out the website for more information about the programme.


November 2007


Associate Parliamentary Food & Health Forum.  A copy of the minutes from the inquiry meeting held on 25 October (presentations given by Professor Alan Jackson and Dr Alan Dangour) are now available on the forum's website:  The next meeting is a conference on the Ethics of Food Policy on Wednesday 21 November.


Parts of the food industry “mislead with omega 3 claims” and have been cashing in on the “money-making omega 3 wave” according to the consumer group Which?.   Which? wants food companies to back up their health claims on products and for the Food Standards Agency and the European Food Safety Authority to establish a recommended daily amount (DRV) for omega-3 as soon as possible.

Sustain's Food & Mental Health project submitted a letter of complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency regarding misleading and exaggerated claims in Birds Eye Omega-3 fish fingers advert.  The advert claims to be a good source of omega 3 as well as being 'good food mood'.  View a copy of the letter at:  The Investigations Executive at the ASA has since written to say that having considered Sustain's complaint they have decided to take it up with Birds Eye through the ASA's formal investigations procedure. 

The Action on Additives website has been launched to help parents identify foods their children should avoid. Chemicals identified as causing hyperactive behaviour in healthy children were found in 95 per cent of top-selling cakes and hundreds of sweets, fizzy drinks and processed foods. The website has been created by the Food Commission and set up by Lizzie Vann, founder of Organix. The site lists a range of additives parents should avoid, including tartrazine (E102), ponceau-4R (E124) and sunset yellow (E110).

Panorama – What next for Craig?  On 12 November, Panorama presented an update on the condition of 14-year-old Craig Buxton, who has been receiving medication for ADHD since he was five, and looked at research showing the inefficacy of the drugs.  A Department of Health spokesperson said: "The National Institute of Clinical Excellence in England (NICE) has advised that drug therapy should only be part of a comprehensive treatment programme that includes a range of social, psychological and behavioural interventions.”

Baroness Susan Greenfield called for more attention to be given to the links between diet and ADHD on 14 November, Today in Parliament.

The Nobel Foods company is launching a new hen egg in the UK which it claims has the highest ever level of long-chain omega-3.  The hens which will be producing the special egg are said to be fed an enriched omega-3 diet.  The company says these omega-3 eggs will be able to offer an alternative source of fatty acid than oily fish, and the egg will be aimed at boosting children's intake of omega-3. Liz Tucker, nutritionist, health consultant and author of Understanding Food Intolerance, says: “Natural food sources are always a better option than supplements or fortified foods because the Omega 3 from a natural source is easier for our bodies to absorb.”

Health warning over folic acid in bread.  Putting folic acid in bread may have harmful consequences for health, researchers warned at the UK Institute of Food Research (IFR).  They have warned that fortifying flour with folic acid may lead to a range of health problems, a finding that calls into question the Food Standard Agency's approval of the move earlier this year.  The Food Standards Agency has agreed plans that would require folic acid to be added to flour in an attempt to reduce birth defects. A decision on whether to go ahead with the scheme rests with ministers. But IFR scientists found the body might struggle to break down folic acid in the amounts proposed.  The findings could have a major effect on future EU member government legislation concerning the addition of synthetic folates, a B vitamin, to flour.

Healthier Menus for Scots Prisons.  Scottish prisons are to be overhauled to encourage healthy eating. Nutrition standards have now been drawn up in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency, which will be piloted in three locations. If successful, it is anticipated that the scheme will be rolled out to around 7000 prisoners in 16 institutions in Scotland.  Two years ago in his annual report, Scotland's jails watchdog Dr Andrew McLellan criticised the quality and standard of food given to inmates and said: "it is possible that encouraging prisoners to eat nutritious food might be a contribution not only to healthier living, but also to less destructive behaviour".

A conference based on findings from the EU-funded Lipgene Project was held in London on 15 November 2007 to discuss the place of omega-3 in the food chain.  Following an overview of the health benefits of long chain omega-3 fatty acids and their place in the diet, the conference set out to consider new knowledge regarding current omega-3 intakes in the UK as well as plant technologies and animal nutrition practices to increase the long chain omega-3 fatty acid composition of key sources of dietary lipids.  More detailed information about the conference on the BNF website at:

The Guardian reported on 16 November about claims that GM plants can replace omega-3 fish oils.

The Soil Association responded to the article saying: “this unbalanced article does not mention that milk and plants are sources of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids, some of which are understood to be converted to the long chain forms EPA and DHA that the article is saying can only be sourced from oily fish (or GM plants with algae genes)... Many risks to health have been identified by scientists from the diverse, and mostly uncontrollable, changes to the biology of plants that are caused by genetic engineering.”


Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum keynote seminar presents  Toddler Diet: The long-term impact of early years nutrition, 27 November 2007.  Sessions will look at:

  • Latest thinking on the current nutritional heath of the under 4s;
  • The possible consequences of poor diet, now and in later life;
  • The challenges of reaching all areas of the community, including those from different racial, religious and socio-economic background;
  • How parents can be informed effectively about good nutrition - including progress in social marketing on toddler nutrition in North America; and
  • Next steps for professionals and government in ensuring good nutrition for toddlers.

Mental Health Today, Tuesday 4 December at the Business Design Centre, London.
A one-day event providing opportunities for mental health professionals, service users and those interested in working in the sector to debate key issues, network and share best practice.

Pulications & research

Eating Well: Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities.  This is a new Caroline Walker Trust  report and will be published later this month.  It provides evidence based information on the nutritional needs of children and adults with learning disabilities and provides practical guidance on how the nutritional status of this vulnerable population group can be improved.

Is it time for a revision of the FDA and FSA advisories?  This was the question posed by Michael Crawford at the Fats of Brains and Waistlines meeting of the McCarrison Society on 19 November.  The authors of the Bristol study in the Lancet noted that "children of mothers who ate small amounts of seafood were more likely to have suboptimum neurodevelopmental outcomes than children of mothers who ate more seafood". 

Source: Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. Lancet 2007; 369: 578-85.  Joseph R Hibbeln, John M Davis, Colin Steer, Pauline Emmett, Imogen Rogers, Cathy Williams, Jean Golding

Olive extract linked to better brain health.  An extract from olive mill wastewater may protect brain cells from oxidative stress and guard against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, suggests new research.  A study using brain cells (in vitro) and another using live mice (ex vivo) showed that the olive extract, Hydroxytyrosol (thought to be the main antioxidant compound in olives) could reduce the damaging effects of iron- and nitric oxide-induced cytotoxicity. 

Source: "Hydroxytyrosol-Rich Olive Mill Wastewater Extract Protects Brain Cells in Vitro and ex Vivo",  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Volume 55, Number 13, Pages 5043 -5049. Authors: S. Schaffer, M. Podstawa, F. Visioli, P. Bogani, W.E. Müller, and G.P. Eckert

Omega-3-rich fish consumption may improve brain function across a broad demographic spectrum, suggest three studies which pull together data from New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Norway.  They all suggest significant benefits of fish consumption, specifically the omega-3 fatty acid content, and cognitive health.  The studies have been published in the November 2007 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (  "These recent reports are novel in that they address the association of n-3 fatty acid intake and cognitive function in non-demented individuals and, thus, present a shift in the attention to earlier stages of cognitive decline with the hope of preventing progression to states of dementia and disability before they become irreversible," wrote Irwin Rosenberg from Tufts University. 


  • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Volume 86, Pages 1278-1285. "Serum phospholipid n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and physical and mental health in a population-based survey of New Zealand adolescents and adults". Authors: F.L. Crowe, C.M. Skeaff, T.J. Green, A.R. Gray
  • Volume 86, Pages 1479-1485. "N-3 Fatty acid proportions in plasma and cognitive performance in older adults". Authors: Carla Dullemeijer, J. Durga, I.A. Brouwer, O. van de Rest, F.J. Kok, R.-J. M Brummer, M.P.J. van Boxtel, and P. Verhoef. Volume 86, Pages 1470-1478. "Cognitive performance among the elderly and dietary fish intake: the Hordaland Health Study"
    Authors: E. Nurk, C.A. Drevon, H. Refsum, K. Solvoll, S.E. Vollset, O. Nygard, H.A. Nygaard, K. Engedal, G.S. Tell, and A.D. Smith
  • Editorial: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Volume 86, Pages 1259-1260. "Rethinking brain food". Author: I.H. Rosenberg

Researchers at Human Nutrition Reseach Centre on Aging ( have been conducting intervention trials, population studies, and laboratory tests to learn how a variety of nutrients and biochemicals affect cognitive decline for this growing demographic group.  Several HNRCA researchers are looking into whether elevated blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine are involved in cognitive decline—and if so, how. This research is part of Human Nutrition, an ARS national program (#107).

Extracts from oregano and rosemary could extend the shelf-life of omega-3-rich fish oil, suggests new research from the US where researchers from Louisiana State University tested the efficacy of methanol extracts of oregano and rosemary at different concentrations to retard the oxidation of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in menhaden oil.

Source: Journal of Food Science
Published on-line ahead of print 1st November 2007, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00569.x
"Oregano and Rosemary Extracts Inhibit Oxidation of Long-Chain n-3 Fatty Acids in Menhaden Oil"
Authors: S.D. Bhale, Z. Xu, W. Prinyawiwatkul, J.M. King, and J.S. Godber


October 2007


Policy & News

The Associate Parliamentary Food & Health Forum (  inquiry into the links between diet, mental health and behaviour (to which Sustain's Food & Mental Health project submitted evidence) has announced an additional session before reporting later in the year, to be held on Thursday 25 October.

After several months of silence, the government's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition ( has replied to Sustain's letter, sent in the spring, requesting a submission from Sustain for consideration by their 'horizon scanning' committee, with a view to a possible future systematic review of the evidence for the links between food and mental health. This has now been submitted.

The Food Standard Agency's long-awaited research on the link between certain additives and bad behaviour in young children was published in September  (, establishing scientific evidence where effects had been dismissed in the past, by the food industry and regulators, as 'anecdotal'.  The Children's Food Campaign coordinated a letter to the FSA stating that it is unfair to put the burden for avoiding additives on parents and that instead the FSA should simply ban the six artificial colours found to contribute to hyperactivity.  The letter also questions the FSA over the difference between the findings of Professor Stevenson's study, which applies to all children, and the Agency's advice which only applies to children who are predisposed to hyperactivity.

The Food & Mental Health project submitted a letter of complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency regarding misleading and exaggerated claima in Birds Eye Omega-3 fish fingers advert to be a good source of omega 3 as well as being 'good food mood'.  To view a copy of the letter follow the link below.  We look forward to the FSA's response.  Download letter of complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency as 224 kb PDF


5th European Congress on Violence in Clinical Psychiatry: Prevention, Treatment and Management of Violence at the Individual, Institutional and Governmental Level.  25 - 27 October 2007, Congress Centre "De Meervaart", Meer en Vaart 300, Amsterdam.

Mental Health Today, Tuesday 4 December at the Business Design Centre, London
A one-day event providing opportunities for mental health professionals, service users and those interested in working in the sector to debate key issues, network and share best practice.

Publications & Research

Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. Lancet 2007; 369: 578-85 .  Joseph R Hibbeln, John M Davis, Colin Steer, Pauline Emmett, Imogen Rogers, Cathy Williams, Jean Golding

The recent study in Bristol which followed up 14 541 pregnancies, 13 988 children, the largest study of its kind, found that the women whose fish consumption in pregnancy was in line with FSA advisories, had more harm in terms of four major psychological criteria from which these advisories were supposed to protect. The 8 year old children born from mothers who exceeded the advisories had better performance and less behavioral problems at school: and there was no upper limit for fish consumption and benefit.

A policy group for the Conservative party has recognised the benefits of good food for public health, including mental health. An extract from 'Blueprint for a Green Economy' is shown below ( Several Sustain reports are cited, including Changing Diets, Changing Minds.

Eating Well: Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities. This is a new CWT report and will be published in November 2007.  It provides evidence based information on the nutritional needs of children and adults with learning disabilities and provides practical guidance on how the nutritional status of this vulnerable population group can be improved.

Adding folic acid to bread could help fight depression, according to new research ( by the University of York and Hull York Medical School.  The research concluded there was a link between depression and low folate levels.

Interesting Projects

A holistic approach to the nutritional significance of food and growing projects with regards to physical and mental health at Ruskin Mill Education Trust, a centre for students with special needs (

A multidisciplinary approach from a Youth Offending Team in Croydon which includes providing support to parents and young people about the links between food and behaviour (

Why don't you tell us about other projects that you know about so we can mention them on our website.  Thank you!

Spring 2007

Policy and News

The Associate Parliamentary Food & Health Forum has been running a series of meetings as an investigation into the links between diet and behaviour. A number of experts in the area have spoken and presented evidence to the forum composed of members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Although any conclusions coming from the investigation will not be binding on the Government, they will hopefully be influential. The final meeting is on the 23 May, and the results will most likely be released in October. Full details can be found on the Forum's webpage at .
Sustain presented to the investigation in late April on some of the relevant policy and research issues - you can view the advance statement submitted to the Forum ahead of our presentation by downloading the following PDF. Download advanced statement as 137kb PDF
The Hyperactive Children's Support Group (HACSG) has recently released a report on The Food Additive Policies of UK Supermarkets in 2007. The report ties in with the imminent call for evidence from NICE on the ADHD guidelines, as well as the results of the study following up on the Isle of Wight research (see below).
The Society Guardian had a section recently on reality blogging from those working in the public sector. There was a particularly relevant entry from a mental health nurse about the food being served on the wards in mental health hospitals. This issue is of particular interest to Sustain, due to our work to improve public sector catering (Good Food on the Public Plate), and its connections with the Food and Mental Health project. We do our best to highlight that sufffering bad food for a couple days in hospital is one thing, having it day-in and day-out for days, months and years as a resident on mental health ward is quite another... 

"There's something perverse about a health service that shoves £150 into somebody's **** every time we give them an injection of Risperdal Consta, but so often doesn't seem inclined     to spend a little bit extra to ensure that patients receive nourishing, appetising food....Let's face it: getting yourself sectioned and locked up on a psychiatric ward is a pretty unpleasant     experience. Bad food can only compound the misery. It isn't exactly the healthiest of food either: mostly carb-laden, fat-soaked stodge. The average portion of cottage pie at Faerie Realm Hospital can either be eaten or used for bricklaying" 
Read the full entry at


The FSA-funded trial on children and food additives (Research project T07040: Chronic and acute effects of artificial food colours and preservatives on children's behaviour) ended in March, and the results are now undergoing peer review. However, as expected, the research has already generated interest and controversy due to a leak regarding the results. As the Guardian reported, "A source at the university told the food industry's magazine the Grocer last week that their results supported findings first made seven years ago that linked the additives to behavioural problems, such as temper tantrums, poor concentration and hyperactivity, and to allergic reactions"  (,,2074346,00.html). The research has been discussed in a closed meeting of the Committee on Toxicity, which withheld the unpublished results from publication on its website (you can see some of the papers at The FSA has promised the results will be published in a 'matter of months'.
Although it doesn't give precise details, the May issue of Harper's Monthly (a US-based magazine) has an article which refers to a major piece of research into depression comparing anti-depressants with fish oils being carried out at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Manufacturing Depression, by Gary Greenberg, is an investigation into the diagnosis of depression as the author takes part in the trial. The article was written within the last year, so it is unlikely that results will be available for a number of years. However, the article itself is very interesting -
The Alzheimer's Society has recently commissioned a new review of the research into the link between diet and dementia. The review will particularly focus on fruit juice, red wine and oily fish (e.g. the Mediterranean diet) to determine whether they reduce the risk of developing the disease. Initial results are expected in time for Alzheimer's Awareness Week 2007, in the first week of July - see and for more information.
Supported by the US National Institute on Aging ( NIA), researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center will take part in a national clinical trial of  DHA, to determine its impact, if any, on the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The trial, coordinated by the University of California at San Diego, will take place at 52 sites across the United States, with researchers planning to enroll 400 participants age 50 and older with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. See for more detail and a list of participating centres.

Food & Mental Health: The project promotes understanding of the links between good diet and mental wellbeing, addressing the many implications of the growing evidence linking what we eat to the way we feel and behave.

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