Impact of diet on mental health of the child


Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    13 January 2023

Findings from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) published in the journal Nutrients show that diet during early childhood is linked to the mental health and personality traits of the child at 8 years of age.1


Norwegian researchers conducted a study with data sourced from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway (MBRN) and the Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Through this study, they aimed to examine the impact of diet in the antenatal period and early childhood on the mental health of the children at 8 years of age, mainly symptoms of anxiety, depression and personality traits. A total of 40,566 mother–child pairs were enrolled between 1999 and 2008. Mothers were instructed to answer a food frequency questionnaire when the child was aged 6 months, 18 months, 3 years, 7 years and 8 years.


Adherence to a healthy diet - new Nordic diet (NDD) - at all the times points investigated was inversely associated with depression and anxiety symptom scores when the child was 8 years old. A positive association was noted between nutritious and sustainable maternal diet during pregnancy and higher scores on mental health traits such as extraversion, benevolence, conscientiousness and imagination and low scores on neuroticism. Diet at 3 and 7 years of age was associated with higher incidence of anxiety with odds ratios of 1.1 and 1.2, respectively. Diet at 7 years was associated with depressive symptoms in the child at the age of 8 years (OR 1.0).


These observations support the impact of diet during pregnancy and early childhood on mental health of children.



  1. Vejrup K, et al. Diet in early life is related to child mental health and personality at 8 years: Findings from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Nutrients. 2023 Jan 3;15(1):243. doi: 10.3390/nu15010243.

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