University of Wollongong researchers are hoping a simple fish oil pill will provide a calming influence on the inmates at a Nowra correctional centre.
More than 130 inmates at the South Coast Correctional Centre are taking part in the four-month Omega Man study, which began in July.
Participants pop a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids and multivitamins and also undergo blood and psychological tests.
University of Wollongong Associate Professor Barbara Meyer is leading the study, built on a UK study, that found a link between omega-3 intake and anti-social behaviour.
"The UK study, by Dr Bernard Gesch from the University of Oxford, found that supplementing the diets of young offenders at a maximum security institution cut the incidences of aggressive behaviour by up to 35 per cent," she said.
Prof Meyer said studies showed that only one in two Australians consumed the recommended amount of omega-3 fats.
"Fish and seafood is the richest source of omega-3 but we are more of a meat-eating nation - in fact most Australians consume seven or eight times more meat than fish," she said.
Prof Meyer has teamed up with sustainable seafood expert Dr Pia Winberg, director of UOW's Shoalhaven Marine and Freshwater Centre, for the pilot study, followed by a multi-centre trial across Australia.
"The interface between biology and human behaviour is an emerging area of interest for corrections as we pursue our goal to reduce reoffending," Corrective Services Assistant Commissioner of Strategic Policy and Planning Luke Grant said. The results of the pilot study are expected early 2014.