Low intake of omega-3 PUFA in school children

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In a study by the city’s National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) that gathered nutritional information on the intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in children in Hyderabad, dietary intake of these important fatty acids was low.

Around 625 young people aged 7 to 13 from five different schools in Hyderabad were selected for the study. The study found that school-age teenagers had a low intake of omega-3 PUFAs.

About 80% of the teenagers ate fish, but their consumption frequency was low (about 100 g once a month), and most of them ate freshwater fish, with less than 4% eating sea fish, which is a rich source of PUFA.

PUFAs are abundant in marine fish, especially salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and in tiny amounts in beef, chicken, and eggs. PUFA-rich foods include flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and certain vegetable seed oils like soybeans and mustard.

“Despite the fact that the majority of adolescents (96 percent) were non-vegetarians, the consumption of marine fish was low, according to the study. Walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds were also in short supply, ”said Dr. P. Devraj, lead author of the study.

“There is hardly any such research in the Indian context. Based on these results, efforts should be made to increase consumption of omega-3 PUFA-rich foods such as nuts, oilseeds, fish and seafood in adolescents to improve cognition, focus and behavior, “said Dr. Hemalatha R, director of the ICMR-NIN, who directed and supervised the study.

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