Hyderabad: A study conducted by the city-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), which involved collecting dietary information on omega-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake among children from Hyderabad, has concluded that the intakes of dietary sources of these essential fatty acids were low among children in Hyderabad.
In the study, around 625 children aged between 7 and 13 were selected from five different schools in Hyderabad. The study found a low intake of omega-3 PUFA in school-going children. About 80 per cent of children were consuming fish, however, their consumption frequency was quite low (only 100g once in a month) and most of them were consuming freshwater fish while less than 4 per cent were taking marine fish, which is a rich source of PUFA.
The marine fish, particularly in salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and in small amounts in meat, poultry, and eggs are rich in PUFA. In vegetarian food, items such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts such as walnuts, and selected plant seed oils such as soybean and mustard are also rich in PUFA.
“The study found that although the majority of children (96%) were non-vegetarians, marine fish consumption was low. Consumption of walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds was also very low,” said Dr P Devraj, the lead author of the study.
“There are hardly any such studies conducted in the Indian context. Based on these findings, efforts need to be taken up to increase consumption of foods such as nuts, oilseeds, fish and seafoods rich in omega-3 PUFA to improve cognition, concentration, and behaviour among children,” said Dr Hemalatha R, Director of ICMR-NIN who led and supervised the study.