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Am J Public Health. 2014 Oct;104(10):e31-42. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302110.

Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: a systematic review.

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Adrienne O'Neil, Shae E. Quirk, Siobhan Housden, Sharon L. Brennan, Lana J. Williams, Julie A. Pasco, Michael Berk, and Felice N. Jacka are with the Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment (IMPACT) Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.


We systematically reviewed 12 epidemiological studies to determine whether an association exists between diet quality and patterns and mental health in children and adolescents; 9 explored the relationship using diet as the exposure, and 3 used mental health as the exposure. We found evidence of a significant, cross-sectional relationship between unhealthy dietary patterns and poorer mental health in children and adolescents. We observed a consistent trend for the relationship between good-quality diet and better mental health and some evidence for the reverse. When including only the 7 studies deemed to be of high methodological quality, all but 1 of these trends remained. Findings highlight the potential importance of the relationship between dietary patterns or quality and mental health early in the life span.

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