Nutrition network

“Through the activities of our network, we have fostered new collaborations between researchers, clinicians and the food industry, and we are working towards better defining the science underpinning nutrition and brain health.”
Suzanne L. Dickson and Roger Adan
Chairs of the Network  

Mission statement/aims

NutritionOur mission is to better understand the bidirectional links between mental health and nutrition, including the mediating systems and psychopharmacology and to use this knowledge to identify novel neuropsychological and neuropharmacological intervention strategies. The network builds new bridges across research disciplines and strengthens links to relevant stakeholders across Europe, including those involved in health and food policy. It comprises a group of European experts on eating disorders and nutrition aspects that will be able to facilitate the participation/inclusion of more early career scientists/clinicians and integrate less developed research groups.

Our specific aims are:

  • To better understand how mental health and behaviour are influenced by dietary patterns, specific diets, and dietary supplements
  • To decipher the mechanisms underlying the variation of normal weight and abnormal weight (obesity, binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa…) with mental disorders.
  • To identify new strategies (dietary, lifestyle, pharmacotherapy) to improve mental health in individuals who suffer from mood and other mental disorders.
  • To clarify the neural factors contributing to eating disorders and underweight/obesity and their link to mental health.
  • To identify neural substrates and pathways that link diet with specific psychological constructs such as mood and neurocognitions (e.g. impulsivity, reward sensitivity).
  • To gain a mechanistic understanding of the afferent signaling systems such as hormones, genes, immune modulators and gut microbiota that link diet to these psychological constructs.
  • To clarify interactions between diet and pharmacotherapy (including side effects) for mental health and metabolic disease and combine dietary advise with pharmacotherapy to increase efficacy.
  • To provide an evidence base to support dietary policies and guidelines for improving mental health and for the treatment of eating disorders.
  • To foster new collaborations across the ECNP community from diverse fields, and to form strong links with stakeholder groups (health and food policy makers, patient and care groups; pharmaceutical and food industry). This is expected to help prepare for future funding initiatives (especially in the EC) in this research field.
  • To facilitate career development of young researchers (early-mid career), through participation, support and training.
  • To initiate activities directed towards an increased public understanding of the importance of nutrition for mental health and to place this topic high on the agenda of the EU.

History

The network was founded in 2016 by a group of researchers working between the disciplines of nutrition and mental health, many of whom have collaborated in EC-funded projects and have been active recently within ECNP. Our initial idea was directed towards a new level of understanding of the nutrition-brain axis by bridging diverse disciplines, focusing on disease areas for which eating behaviour and body weight disturbance are having a neurobiological origin.