By Beverleigh H Piepers 

Many of us know the experience of reaching for chocolate or candy when feeling depressed. According to a study published in the medical journal Appetite in January 2014, this bad habit can start in children as young as 8 years of age.

Researchers at the National Institute of Health in Washington, United States, looked at the eating habits of 432 young people ranging in age from 8 to 17. Participants were given a survey of their emotional statistics along with buffet meals. It was found when children reported the most symptoms of depression they ate the most calories and the most calories came from sugar.


From these results, it was concluded children’s eating habits associated with depression could be expected to produce overweight and obese children.

One way of encouraging healthy eating habits is to have healthy eating habits yourself. Children imitate what they see rather than doing what they are told, so munch on healthy snacks if you want your children to. Have fruit around for a sweet snack instead of refined sugar foods. Freezing grapes or bananas makes them seem extra sweet without adding sugar.

Feeling sad or blue can be helped by methods other than eating food:


  • talking out the problem with a parent or school counselor is more helpful than eating sugary food.
  • getting out and doing something fun, such as going to the library for a good book or playing outdoors can help.
  • running around or playing at sports helps the brain to make endorphins, which fight the blues naturally.

Eating a healthful diet that helps keep the body in good shape is essential for a feeling of wellbeing.

If feelings of sadness, tiredness, worthlessness, and guilt continue to plague children and, if their studies are threatened, then it could be time to seek medical attention:

  • a family history of depressive disorders,
  • a sudden loss

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