‘Many pieces of this big puzzle, that is research on seafood and its effect on our health, have started to fall into place. To be certain of research results, it is important to carry out many studies, and here a large number of scientific articles have been generated. We have also examined the issues from a number of different angles,’ says Jannike Øyen, scientist at NIFES and project manager for FINS.
The FINS project has had a broad focus, involving studies on people right from the foetal stage, through infancy and kindergarten children, to school pupils and adults. Research have also included cell cultures and rodents. The project is interdisciplinary and divided into the two main topics of physical and mental health. The scientists have focused on challenges relating to lifestyle, such as diabetes, overweight and mental development.
Documenting effects of seafood
Through the different research projects in FINS, scientists have attempted to document the effects of what we actually eat in a meal containing fish, and not just effects of single nutrients, such as omega-3, iodine and vitamin D. The scientists have also included all of the most important fish species in order to analyse effects of consuming both oily and lean fish. Kjell Morten Stormark from Uni Research and the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare (RKBU) in Western Norway, has led the part of the project that concerns mental health.
‘The scope of the project in itself means that we have obtained a unique insight into the potential effects of fish and seafood on mental health. We are interested in converting this knowledge into practice. We want to convey the effect of children, young people and families’ diets on mental health and cognitive development. If this enable us to prevent problems in the first place, it will be much better than having to go through treatment,’ says Stormark.
One of the biggest initiatives in Norway
The FINS project started in 2013 and with its budget of NOK 70 million, it is one of the biggest research initiatives on seafood and health in Norway. About 15 scientific articles have been published to date and a total of around 45 articles are planned from the project. The results of the project can help to form the basis for the next dietary recommendations and will make it possible, to a greater extent, to recommend food products rather than specific nutrients.
Gunnar Mellgren of the University of Bergen (UiB) has led the part of the FINS project that concerns overweight and diabetes. He highlights how the project has brought nutrition researchers from different institutions together.
‘We have generated important knowledge and built up competence through FINS. The project has also been important for collaboration between the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen, Uni Research, NIFES and the many other institutions that have contributed. The arenas that FINS has created has brought us closer together and given us a better understanding of how we can collaborate within nutrition research,’ says Mellgren.