There is evidence that poor nutrition may increase risks for behavior problems and that improving nutrition may reduce problems. To experimentally test the effects of omega-3 on children’s behavior problems, Raine et al. (2015) conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 100 8-16-year-old Mauritian children received a daily fruit drink containing 1000 mg. of omega-3 while 100 control children received the same fruit drink but without omega-3. Parents completed the CBCL/6-18 while the children completed the YSR prior to treatment, again after the 6-month treatment, and again after a 6-month follow-up period.
To assess possible changes in parental functioning, the parents also completed the short version of the self-report Psychopathic Personality Inventory at each assessment. It was found that CBCL scores for Internalizing, Externalizing, and all syndromes except Somatic Complaints declined significantly more for children receiving omega-3 than for control children. Surprisingly, parents’ self-ratings on the Psychopathic Personality Inventory also showed significantly greater declines for parents whose children received omega-3 than for parents of control children. Statistical analyses showed that changes in parental functioning that occurred in response to the effects of omega-3 on the children contributed to further improvements in the children’s functioning.
Raine, A., Portnoy, J., Liu, J., Mahoomed, T., & Hibbeln, J.R. (2015). Reduction in behavior problems with omega-3 supplementation in children aged 8-16 years: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, parallel-group trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56, 509-520.