MENTAL DISEASE as a result of dietary deficiency is expected to become an increasing problem, and intensive farming methods get some of the blame, The Observer reports.

New studies have discovered that modern diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in the meat of animals and fowl, such as cattle and chicken, which graze on grass, and in vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.

These acids are important to brain development, and scientists have found that omega-3 deficiency is related to behavioural problems in children and depression in adults.

Intensive farming methods, increased use of breakfast cereals and widespread use of sunflower oils are among the causes of the high levels of omega-3 deficiency, The Observer reports.

The reason why intensive farming comes into the equation is that meat of animals fed on cereals does not contain the same levels of omega-3 as meat from animals which have grazed on grass.

While cereals and meat from animals fed on cereals contain omega-6 fatty acids, they are very low in terms of omega-3.

And while in the past, diets contained balanced amounts of these chemicals, omega-6 fatty acids have come to dominate, as farmers have fed more and more cattle on grain, and food manufacturers have turned to the use of sunflower and other similar oils.

“We are facing a health crisis more serious and more dangerous than that posed by obesity in the West,” said Professor Michael Crawford, of the University of North London.