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Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate food consumption frequency in 1–6-year-olds as an eating behaviour-related predictor of behavioural problems over a span of six years. Eating behaviour in early childhood serves as a foundation for future health outcomes. Diet patterns can have long-term beneficial or adverse effects on social behaviour development. Methods: This longitudinal study was performed based on information obtained between July 2011 and August 2017 provided from a project named ‘Community Empowerment and Care for Wellbeing and Health Longevity’ initiated in 1991; the current study involved 124 mother-child dyads from the project. Children aged 1–6 years were studied in July 2011, with a follow-up assessment in August 2017. The primary exposure examined was the frequency of food items intake. The primary outcome was behaviour problems as assessed by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Results: The adjusted results suggested that a higher intake of leafy green and light-coloured vegetables were significantly associated with decreased odds of conduct problems and prosocial behaviour problems in Japanese children. However, no associations were observed among fruits, milk, small fish, eggs, soybeans, seaweed and any SDQ subscales. Conclusion: This study shows that eating leafy green and light-coloured vegetables may have a protective effect on a child’s conduct and against prosocial behaviour problems. Due consideration should be given to children’s eating habits in the early stages of their lives to ensure better mental health.
Keywords: Child; Diet; Impulsive behaviour; Longitudinal studies; Mental health; Nutrients; Sugars; Vegetables.
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