In May 2019 researchers from Canada published the results of their study to assess the association between meeting established recommendations for diet, physical activity, sleep, and sedentary behavior in childhood and mental illness in adolescence. The researchers stated that mental illness affects over 15% of Canadian adolescents and new preventive strategies are critically required. A total of 3,436 adolescents, aged 10-11 years of age, were included in the study. Information on lifestyle behaviour and dietary information was collected via a food frequency questionnaire and parental reports, which included meeting recommendations for vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives, added sugar, saturated fat, sleep, screen time, and physical activity. Mental illness was also assessed. It was noted that 12% met between 1-3 of the recommendations, 67% between 4-6 of the recommendations and 21% between 7-9 of the recommendations. During the period of follow-up 15% of adolescents had a mental illness diagnosed. Results showed that compared with meeting 1-3 recommendations, meeting 7-9 recommendations was associated with 56% fewer physician visits for mental health issues. Every additional recommendation met was associated with 15% fewer physician visits for mental health issues. The researchers therefore concluded that mental health issues in adolescence are linked to compliance with lifestyle recommendations in childhood, with a greater compliance to recommendations for diet, physical activity, sleep, and sedentary behaviour leading to fewer mental health issues.
Loewen OK et al. Lifestyle Behavior and Mental Health in Early Adolescence. Pediatrics. 2019 May;143(5). pii: e20183307.