Unhealthy Diets Linked to Depression in Children and Youth

Rob Wipond
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Children and adolescents who eat foods high in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and processed foods appear to experience more depression and low moods, according to a review of twelve epidemiological studies across different countries published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Led by Adrienne O’Neil of the School of Medicine at Deakin University in Australia, the study included data on nearly 83,000 children from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway. “We found evidence of a significant, cross-sectional relationship between unhealthy dietary patterns and poorer mental health in children and adolescents,” wrote the researchers. “We observed a consistent trend for the relationship between good-quality diet and better mental health and some evidence for the reverse.”

“The evidence that poor dietary intake could be a risk factor for mental health issues in both adults and children is only very new – much of the data has emerged over the past seven years – thus widespread recognition is lacking,” O’Neill told Medical Xpress.

“Given that the average age of onset for anxiety and mood disorders is six years and 13 years, respectively, the potential for early intervention using strategies targeted at improving dietary intake at a population level may be of substantial public health benefit,” the researchers wrote. “However, this would require policy action to improve the global food environment.”

Unhealthy diets linked with mental health of children (Medical XPress, November 7, 2014)

(Abstract) Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: a systematic review. O’Neil A et al. American Journal of Public Health. October 2014. Doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302110)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I agre 100%. However, please do a read up on saturated fats. It’s a lie fed to the public that it’s unhealthy. The brain is made of this stuff. Eat more coconut oil, organic healthy foods and you’ll be ok. Doctors in the medical field are just as guilty as psychiatrists in distorting the truth.

    Please site one confirmed death related to saturated fats.

    Otherwise, I’m with you on this.

    Sincerely,

    C. B.

    • “However, this would require policy action to improve the global food environment.”
      Nice but since this is not serving rich people’s interest it will never be done. Rather they will hand out more pills (which helps a lot to enrich some rich folks even more). Earth’s overpopulated so who cares about the little brats anyway, right?