Association of Impulsivity With Food, Nutrients, and Fitness in a Longitudinal Birth Cohort Study

Denis Matrov



Impulsivity is a psychiatric vulnerability factor strongly associated with substance abuse but also with unhealthy diet. Whether these associations extend to specific nutrients is largely unknown. Therefore, we investigated the longitudinal association between diet, cardiorespiratory fitness, and 2 impulsivity dimensions in a representative sample of south Estonian adolescents and young adults. Impulsivity and dietary intake were measured 3 times in 2 birth cohorts at regular intervals in individuals aged 15 to 33 years.


The sample included 2 birth cohorts of the longitudinal Estonian Children Personality Behaviour and Health Study. The analytic sample size consisted of 2883 observations (56.4% females). The primary outcomes were adaptive and maladaptive impulsivity scores measured by an original 24-item Likert-type questionnaire. Impulsivity scores were predicted from the food diaries data converted into nutrient categories. A linear mixed-effects approach was used to model the time dependence between observations.


Lower maladaptive impulsivity was associated with higher cardiorespiratory fitness (β = −.07; 95% CI = −0.12; −0.03). Higher maladaptive impulsivity was associated with lower dietary intake of zinc (β = −.10; −0.15; −0.06) and vegetables (β = −.04; −0.07; −0.01) and higher intake of sodium (β = .06; 0.02; 0.10). Vitamin B6 was positively associated with adaptive impulsivity (β = .04; 0.01; 0.07). Additionally, some of the adjusted models showed significant but weak associations with selenium, alcohol, fish, and cereal products.


Food choice may affect the neurochemistry and therefore regulate the manifestations of impulsivity. We identified associations between several (micro)nutrients and maladaptive impulsivity.

Public information


Association of Impulsivity With Food, Nutrients, and Fitness in a Longitudinal Birth Cohort Study


Denis Matrov, Triin Kurrikoff, Inga Villa, Katre Sakala, Aleksander Pulver, Toomas Veidebaum, Ruth Shimmo, Jaanus Harro


International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology