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Bad Diet May Increase Risk of Mental Health Issues in Children, Researchers Find

Bad Diet May Increase Risk of Mental Health Isues in Children, Researchers Find

Having a poor diet may not just lead to increased weight gain in children. A recent study finds that a poor diet can also lead to mental health issues. 

According to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers "examined certain mental health and dietary measures, including the Child Behavior Checklist, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Food Frequency Questionnaire," said an article on ScienceWorldReport.com. 

"Our findings highlight the potential importance of the relationship between dietary patterns or quality and mental health early in the life span," the researchers noted in a news release, the article said. The study is titled, "Relationship Between Diet and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review."

Findings, the article said, "revealed that a link to unhealthy diet was connected to poor mental health, in some instances--adding that problems such as anxiety, depression and mood disorders would often come about for young children on an improper diet."

"This systematic review assessed the relationship between children's dietary intake and mental health by evaluating the level of evidence of cross-sectional studies, meaning that diet and mental health were measured at the same time, so you can't tell which came first," added Jayne A. Fulkerson, Ph.D., director of the Center for Child and Family Health Promotion Research at the University of Minnesota. "However, we know that good nutrition can help children in a variety of ways, including better concentration, school performance, and weight, so providing healthful foods is an important factor to promote children's health, including mood."

According to the study, the researchers aim was "to review synthesize the existing literature to determine whether an association exists between diet quality and mental health in childhood or adolescence, with a focus on internalizing disorders including depression, low mood, and anxiety."

"It may be the case that children and adolescents with internalizing disorders or symptoms eat more poorly as a form of self-medication," the researchers said. "However, it is equally as conceivable that the influence of early eating habits and nutritional intake has an important impact on affect. Indeed, there are numerous potential biological pathways by which diet quality may have an impact on mental health in children and adolescents."

Read the full study and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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