Relationship Between Diet and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review:

O’Neil, Et. Al, (2014) outline that the impact of diet on development of depressive disorders has been are area of increased interest and study for the passed decade. Previous met-analytical studies have confirmed the inverse relationship between depression and healthy diets reporting that individuals whom consume a poor, western, processed, diet are at a greater risk for developing depression and anxiety. While the authors do note that stress can lead to unhealthy eating, they surmise that the opposite is more likely responsible for negative mental health symptoms.  This is a systemic review with a mixed method, triangulation design as this study examined a compiling of 12 epidemiological studies concerning the relationship between diet quality and patterns of mental health in children and adolescents.

 The types of studies that were included in the review process consisted of full text articles, consisted of epidemiological cohort, case-control and cross-sectional designs and looked at the association between diet and internalizing disorders such as depression.

Healthy foods were defined as nutrient dense, whole foods such as vegetables, salads, fruit, fish and other foods known to be healthful, conversely, unhealthy foods were defined as refined, high intake, high in saturated fat, and other processed carbohydrates. 9 of the research studies examined the relationship between diet and exposure while 3 used mental health as the exposure. The results indicated that there was an integrated relationship between diet and mental health implying that children and adolescents with poor dietary health also exhibited poor mental health, additionally there was a consistent relationship between a higher quality diet and better mental health. In examining only the 7 qualitative studies, the resulting relationship remained unchanged. The findings signify that the relationship between diet and mental health should be taken into consideration in order to provide a full scope of effective care. (O’Neil, et. al., 2014)

            One of the main advantages of mixed method research designs is the ability to have a comprehensive look at processing and finding relationships between different styles of collecting information. One of the main disadvantages is skewing the results by error of compiling and converting different measurement styles. Mixed method research styles are especially helpful when looking at the benefits of integrated options within the mental health field.


O’Neil, A., Quirk, S. E., Housden, S., Brennan, S. L., Williams, L. J., Pasco, J. A., & ... Jacka, F. N. (2014). Relationship Between Diet and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. American Journal Of Public Health, 104(10), e31-e42. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302110


Sheperis, C. J., Young, J. S., & Daniels, M. H. (2010). Counseling research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. ISBN: 9780131757288.

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