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Honor for 30 years of omega-3 research

April 18, 2012 at 1:15 AM

ADELAIDE, Australia, April 18 (UPI) -- An Australian nutrition researcher said scientists, after decades of research, were uncovering the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

Bob Gibson, professor of functional food science and director of the FOODplus Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, is scheduled to be the first Australian to receive the Alexander Leaf Distinguished Scientist Award, an international honor for outstanding lifetime achievement in the study of fatty acids and lipids.

In the early 1980s, Gibson wrote a groundbreaking paper on the fatty acid composition of human breast milk, which sparked new research right across the globe into the role of both breast milk and formula in babies' health.

Gibson and colleagues demonstrated babies receiving breast milk -- which naturally contains omega-3 fatty acids -- showed improved brain development relative to babies fed on formula, which at the time did not contain the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA.

The findings led to changes in infant formula regulations and, as a result, essential fatty acids are included in all commercial infant formulas, Gibson said.

"Although I've been working in this field for more than 30 years, I'm constantly astounded by the discoveries we're making," Gibson said in a statement. "Just when you think you've found everything there is to find, we realize there is more and more that science can uncover."

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