Behavior, Education and Nutrition Study (BEANS)

This study is being conducted at a UK school called Chiltern Way Academy in Buckinghamshire which is attended by children aged 9-19 years who have learning and behavior differences such as ADHD and Autism. This is also a collaboration with the University of Roehampton and King’s College London.

Chiltern Way Academy is an award-winning Special Educational Needs Academy for boys and girls aged 9-19 years with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) and Speech Communication and Language Needs (SLCN). Many of the students have additional and complex needs attached to this three-primary diagnosis and ADHD is the most prevalent.  The students currently receive breakfast and a two-course lunch from in-house catering teams each day. Their vocational curriculum is dominated by food technology, with many students going onto work in the catering industry.  Teaching staff are intuitively aware of the potential impact food can have on the students’ well-being and are committed to making nutritional improvements to optimize this.

This study aims to recruit approximately 100 students in both lower and upper schools compromising Chiltern Way Academy as part of a nutritional pilot program.  The primary objective is to test the feasibility and efficacy of nutrient-rich, education and dietary intervention program comprising vitamin, mineral and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, as well as a 125 ml glass of a blended fruit and vegetable smoothie daily and healthy recipes (which will be prepared by in-house kitchen staff on their behavior) in improving behavior,   (as measured by disciplinary records), well-being and mood over a 16-week period. Secondary measures will involve the administration of a non-invasive finger prick test to measure patient’s omega-3 index (i.e., the sum of EPA + DHA as well as % levels of the omega-6 Arachidonic acid and % levels of EPA and DHA) prior to the nutritional intervention. At the end of 16 weeks, the finger prick tests and behavioral and well-being assessments will be repeated. Comparisons between study start (baseline) and study end in parent- and teacher-rated behavioral changes will be made. Participants not wanting to take part in the nutritional intervention will be invited to form a control group and complete the pre- and post-questionnaires. Disciplinary records will be provided by the teachers for both groups (control versus intervention). Changes in omega-3 index between baseline and end-point will also be correlated with changes in behavioral scores. The pilot data will compare omega-3 blood levels, mood/well-being, and disciplinary behavior before and after supplementation and correlate any improvement in behavioral changes with an increase in omega-3 levels.

The nutritional intervention will be given daily for 4 months and will include multi-vitamins, probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids supplements. The smoothie drink will consist of 60% vegetables and 40% fresh fruit and will be given daily during breakfast.  Dr. Gow will work with fellow registered nutritionist, Lauren Gale and the school kitchen staff to implement healthy and delicious recipes for breakfast and lunch meals.

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