Durham Research
Using Fatty Acids for Learning Conditions


Us in the Media
Preschool Results
Primary Results
Secondary Results

The Results

Dramatic results were seen within just 3 months of the trial. The children in the active group supplementing with fatty acids saw significant improvements in reading (9.5 months), spelling (6.5 months) and behaviour, compared to the placebo group where no overall improvement  was made.

During the 3-6 month period when the placebo group crossed over to fatty acid supplementation, considerable improvements were shown in the same areas, with an average reading gain of 13.5 months and an average spelling gain at over 6 months. The active group that continued with fatty acid supplementation showed further signs of progress or maintained their improvement.

At the start of the trial, all of the school children were a year behind their chronological age for reading and spelling, but after the trial, the active group who had been on fatty acids throughout the trial made spelling and reading gains over and above their chronological age.

Reading and Spelling


  • During the first 3 months the average gain for children taking fatty acids was 9.5 months for reading and 6.5 months for spelling. This was a highly significant improvement compared to the control group gains for reading (p < 0.004) and spelling (p < 0.001).
  • Between 3-6 months, children switching from placebo to active capsules made an average reading gain of 13.5 months and over 6 months for spelling. The fish oil group who had been on fatty acids from the beginning of the trial continued to make reading and spelling gains over and above what would be expected for their chronological ages.

Fatty Acids vs Stimulant Medication

The treatment effect size on Conners' Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) index rating was 0.55 in the first 3 months, and over 0.70 over the 6 months. This is comparable to the average effect size for stimulant medication: 0.78.


Clinical range of ADHD

  • At the start of the trial, the percentage of children within the clinical range of ADHD was set at 32% for the fatty acid group and 31% for the placebo group.
  • After 3 months supplementation, the percentage of children with the clincical range of an ADHD diagnosis reduced to 18% for the fatty acid group, whereas this only dropped by 1% in the placebo group.

Behaviour Raw Score Total

A raw score was calculated from the teacher rating form that assessed each child's behaviour. After 3 months there was a highly significant reduction (p < 0.0001) seen in the active supplement group, compared to those on placebo, in this behavioural score. The fatty acid group reduced from an average score of 74.7 to 58.1., whereas the before and after treatment scores for the placebo group were 69.5 and 67.9.


The active group saw significantly reduced (p < 0.00001) teacher ratings on the Conners' DSM ADHD global scale after 3 months, compared with the placebo group. The placebo group saw similar improvements on this scale after crossing over to the active oils for the 3-6 month period of the trial.

DSM-IV Hyperactive-Impulsive

After just 3 months children on the active supplement saw a significant reduction on the rating scale of Hyperactive-Impulsive behaviour, compared to those on placebo (p < 0.00001). Further reductions were seen in the 3-6 month period of the study.

Impact on Behaviour

Compared to those in the placebo group, children taking active supplementation made significant decreases in 11 out of a total of 13 behavioural ratings, including features of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.