A qualitative interview study on effects of diet on children's mental state and performance. Evaluation of perceptions, attitudes and beliefs of parents in four European countries

Brigitte Brands, Bernadette Egan, Eszter Györei, Juan Carlos López-Robles, Heather Gage, Cristina Campoy, Tamás Decsi, Berthold Koletzko, Monique M. Raats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Nutrition is one of the many factors that influence a child's cognitive development and performance. Understanding the relationship between nutrition and mental performance in children is important in terms of their attainment and productivity both in school and later life. Since parents are seen as nutritional gatekeepers for their children's diets, their views and beliefs are of crucial importance. The present study aims to qualitatively examine parents' perceptions of the relationship between diet and mental performance of children. The study was conducted with a total of 124 parents in four European countries using a semi-structured interview schedule. Parents speak of the effects of diet at two levels; the nature of the effects of diet and the characteristics of the foods responsible for these effects. Mental outcomes are related to diet, with the effects perceived to be associated with attention and concentration, often mediated by effects on children's mood and behaviour. Parents categorise foods as 'good' or 'bad' with positive effects related generally to a healthy balanced diet while negative effects are perceived to be associated with sugary and fatty foods. Understanding parental perceptions is important for many purposes including the targeting of dietary advice and prioritising of public health issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-746
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2012



  • Child diet
  • Health
  • Mental performance
  • Parental views

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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