Today, Friday 22nd July, Waitrose reveals that one in three children never eat oily fish despite the health benefits associated with its high consumption.

UK parents are unaware of which foods contain Omega 3 and how children can gain more of it. One in three parents identified carrots as being naturally high in Omega 3 - when levels are in fact low. In contrast 14% of parents believe that salmon is not a good source of Omega 3, even though oily fish is one of the best ways to get the polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega 3s are a vital part of a balanced diet helping to maintain normal heart, brain and vision. A total of 20% of those polled - in a survey of 2,000 UK parents - said they were unaware of the importance of Omega 3.

Despite leading authorities recommending regular consumption of foods containing Omega 3, research suggests that only 23% of the UK’s adult population consumes the recommended intake, generally classified as at least one portion of oily fish per week. Intake levels are particularly low in children and young people.

Moira Howie, Waitrose Nutrition Manager, said: "A lot of the focus has been getting children to have five a day and ensuring they have enough calcium. But Omega 3 is also vital for maintaining a healthy heart, brain function and vision, with many parents unaware of its benefits and where to find it in the diet. Our parents and grandparents might have traumatic memories of being given cod liver oil on a spoon - but they would have been regularly consuming a good source of Omega 3 - something which many of today's younger generation appear to be missing out on."

Over 80% of those surveyed admitted that they would like to increase omega 3 in both their diet and their family’s diet to help maintain a healthy heart, brain and vision.
Scientific research undertaken in 2013 showed that people with the highest levels of Omega 3 had a 40 per cent reduction in cardiovascular related deaths compared to people with the lowest levels. Optimum health benefits are obtained from a daily intake of 250mg of omega 3 fatty acids as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.
The survey results come a fortnight after Waitrose launched a new range of Omega 3 enriched chicken - which means that the fatty acid is now easily accessible to those who don't eat oily fish.

The chicken, which is already in hot demand from Waitrose customers, is enriched by feeding the birds on a diet containing an algae - the family of aquatic plants that includes kelp and seaweed - naturally rich in Omega 3. The taste and appearance of the chicken is the same as birds reared on a conventional diet.

The range, which is unique to Waitrose, is produced by Moy Park on family farms in Northern Ireland to Waitrose’s bespoke high welfare standards, which include plenty of natural light and more space than the industry standards allowing the birds to display natural behaviour.

This unique innovation has been brought to market by Waitrose in partnership with its chicken supplier Moy Park and animal nutrition specialist Devenish Nutrition. The project, which has taken a decade to bring to market, came about as a result of concerns within the medical community that consumers were not including enough sources of Omega 3 in their diets; this is of particular concern in children, who often do not like oily fish. To help improve intake, the idea was conceived of developing a more popular protein containing a source of Omega 3. Chicken is Waitrose’s top selling protein.

Charlotte Craddock, Waitrose Poultry Buyer, said: "We have seen really encouraging sales and consumer feedback on the Omega 3 chicken range so far. This was a first for a British supermarket and customers have really embraced the option of a staple poultry product with such fantastic health benefits. This is a range with a really bright future, with the best-selling lines being the pack of 2 fillets, pack of 4 fillets and the whole bird and we are excited to see strong sales continue."

Download press release as a PDF