By: Urmeli Katus
On: 7 September 2019

How the Gene Called TFAP2B May Increase the Risk for Obesity

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased worldwide and is affecting millions of adults and children [1]. The development of obesity is complex with factors like genetics, individual metabolism, dietary and physical activity choices, food and water availability, education and culture, playing a role [2]. Several genome-wide association studies have revealed an association between obesity and the gene encoding the transcription factor AP-2 beta (TFAP2B[3, 4]. TFAP2B plays an important role during the early stages of pregnancy in the development of different parts of the nervous [5]...

By: Dr. Larissa Niemeyer
On: 6 September 2019

How Eating Healthy Can Keep You Mentally Healthy

Mens sana in corpore sano – healthy mind and healthy body. Food insecurity – defined as an individual or household lacking access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets individuals’ dietary needs – has been linked to children’s behavioral, academic, and emotional problems and an increased risk of the development of mental health disorders [1,2]. In a Canadian study on food insecurity in young children, researchers found that children from food-insecure families were disproportionately likely to experience persistent symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. These results were still true after controlling for immigrant status, family structure, maternal age at child’s birth, family income, maternal and paternal education, prenatal tobacco exposure, maternal and paternal depression and negative parenting [3]...

By: Lin Li, Prof. Henrik Larsson
On: 24 August 2019

Twin Studies: A Unique Epidemiological Tool

Twin studies have been used for decades to estimate the relative importance of genes and environments for traits, behaviors and disorders. A very large meta-analysis of all twin studies conducted during the past 50 years (almost 3000 publications) revealed that across all studied traits the average reported heritability was 49%, meaning that about 50% of the variation in traits is due to genetic factors [1]. 1. Methods and theory of classical twin design. By comparing the differences and similarities between twins, researchers use them as a natural experiment to study whether a trait, phenotype or disease is due to nature (genetic predisposition) or nurture (environmental factors)...

By: Lisa Bos
On: 7 August 2019

How to encourage children with neurodevelopmental disorders to live healthy?!

Neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASS) and different types of anxiety disorders are associated with a higher risk of poor dietary, physical activity and sleep habits. Shaping behavior in children with neurodevelopmental symptoms can be challenging [1]. How do parents experience teach healthy habits to these children? What tips and tricks are there to encourage your child to live healthily? We put together the results of a recent study conducted in Boston and our own results from a qualitative interview with parents of children that followed the TRACE-diet [2] to help you encourage your child to be healthy...

By: Prof. Julia Rucklidge
On: 31 July 2019

Can mineral-vitamin treatment change the microbiome? Yes, it can!

This week, my lab at the University of Canterbury published the first investigation [1] into whether a mineral-vitamin supplement could change the bacteria in the microbiome of children with ADHD. Our preliminary data, based on our sample of 17 kids (half of whom were given micronutrients and half were given a placebo for 10 weeks), hints at increased diversity and changes in the types of bacteria contained in the microbiome of the children exposed to the micronutrients. This type of study starts to move us beyond the efforts to show that micronutrients benefit some people with psychiatric symptoms, and towards figuring out why they might exert their influence. So, what does this mean?...

By: Yvonne Willemsen
On: 28 July 2019

Measuring impulsivity in 3-year-old children

For my research, I measured impulsive behaviour in 3-year-old children. Briefly, impulsivity is the opposite of inhibitory control. There are several forms of inhibitory control, and although there is no official categorization of different forms of inhibitory control in young children, Anderson & Reidy [1] defined five categories. The categories are:...

By: Dr. Judit Cabana Dominguez
On: 28 July 2019

What the genetics of cocaine dependence can teach us about other psychiatric conditions

Behavior results from the complex interplay between genes and environment. Our genes predispose us to how we act and feel, by influencing how our brain develops and functions. This way, certain genetic variants in our genome increase the risk of developing mental health problems (while others may decrease this risk). Whether someone actually develops a mental health disorder or not, depends on many other factors in our environment, such as stressors and experiences. Nonetheless, studying these genetic risk factors for mental health conditions is an important aspect of understanding these disorders. As an example of such research, we have now...

By: Lara Hamzehpour
On: 28 July 2019

Stress-induced food addiction – how everyday life stressors alter our dietary habits

Probably the best-known example of how the brain and mental health are linked to nutrition and our gut, and the one that we can all identify ourselves with, is stress. We all know it: studying 24/7 for an important exam, pressure in the job or even a house full of work. We have no time to think and – no – we definitely don’t have time to cook. But at the same time, we are constantly hungry, craving for a snack. The fastest solution? The next best, nicest looking, edible piece of food we can find. But why do we change...

By: Prof. Liv Grimstvedt Kvalvik
On: 28 July 2019

How to navigate in a world that is constantly reporting scientific findings?

In the Eat2beNICE project, the researchers aim at studying the effect of diet and mental health and our blogs are meant to enlighten readers. Everyday research findings published in journals will offer an opinion on how to best live our lives. It is simply not possible, nor advised, to change your habit after every piece of new knowledge. On the other hand, researchers do need to publish their results in order to have their findings discussed and reproduced. How do you as a reader navigate? No single study should alone be enough to change nutritional advice or guidelines. The research...

By: Hannah Kurtz
On: 17 July 2019

The effects of food insecurity on mental health

The effects of food insecurity on mental healthAccording to the food and agriculture organization, about 1 billion people in the world were living in hunger or insecurity in year 2010 (1). Additionally, 5 to 15 % of people in industrial countries experience food insecurity which makes it all the more a public health concern in Europe (2). But, what exactly is food insecurity about?Food insecurity means that the access to sufficient food, meeting the dietary and cultural needs and the individual food preferences for a healthy and active life is not possible. It is not only a lack of food,...