Can Diet Patterns be Predictive of Mental Health Disorders? – Prof Felice Jacka

Posted on: April 21, 2020
Last Updated: September 26, 2020

Professor Jacka is a psychiatric epidemiologist, Director of the Food and Mood Centre, and founder and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR). She is an NHMRC Career Development Fellow at Deakin University in Australia, within the IMPACT SRC at the School of Medicine. She also holds Honorary Principal Research Fellow appointments at the Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Centre; The University of Melbourne; and the Black Dog Institute in NSW. 

Author Quotes  

In older people, dietary patterns predict their risk for depression over time. With a poor-quality diet, this is linked to hypertension, weight, and a range of cardiovascular risk factors which then predisposes to depression.

Adolescents with the lowest intakes of healthy foods and also those with the highest intake of unhealthy foods were much more likely to have depression according to the Adolescent Depression Scale.

Summary and Slides 

In this short video excerpt, Professor Jacka talks through the predictive power of dietary patterns for new depression and the power of socioeconomic variables to explain this.  

She presents evidence from the large PATH through life study, revealing how dietary patterns can predict depression in older adults, and how this is linked with cardiovascular risk factors.  

In adolescents, several studies have shown that diet quality affects mental health 

Professor Jacka discusses the results of an investigation into whether dietary intake in early life precludes depression two years later in adolescence. She demonstrates how changes in the diet lead to changes in mental health, and how diet predicts mental health with no reverse causality. 

Take-Home Points  

  • Dietary patterns in older adults are linked with depression with some correlation to cardiovascular factors. 
  • Poor diet in early life is a factor in predicting depression in adolescents. 
  • Diet predicts mental health status in adolescents with no reverse causality. 


Learn more

  1. Impact of Nutritional Deficiencies in the Pre and Post Natal Period on Child Brain Development – Prof Jacka
  2. The Impact of Diet Quality on Mental Health – Prof Felice Jacka
  3. Diet Quality and Depression in Children, Adolescents and Adults – Prof Felice Jacka
  4. Role of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) – Prof Felice Jacka
  5. Generational Changes in Diet and Role of Supplements – Prof Felice Jacka
  6. Diet as a Prevention Strategy in Mental Health – Prof Felice Jacka


  1. Jacka FN, Cherbuin N, Anstey KJ, Butterworth P. Does reverse causality explain the relationship between diet and depression? J Affect Disord. 2015;175:248250.
  2. Jacka FN, Kremer PJ, Leslie ER, et al. Associations between diet quality and depressed mood in adolescents: results from the Australian Healthy Neighbourhoods Study. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010;44(5):435-442.
  3. Jacka FN, Kremer PJ, Berk M, et al. A prospective study of diet quality and mental health in adolescents. PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24805. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024805. Epub 2011 Sep 21.