Diet Research


The Diet Special Interest Group investigates areas of human dietary intake in the Raine Study. The group has a range of measures on our participants relating to infant feeding, especially breastfeeding, the timing of introduction of solids, dietary intake (3-day food diaries at 14 years, food frequency questionnaires and blood collections at 14, 17, 20 and 22 years), dietary patterns (i.e. quantity, variety, and combinations of different foods and beverages in a diet and the frequency with which they are consumed) and specific nutrients across different generation and ages within the Raine Study.

The Raine Study dietary data complement the health outcome data collected in the Raine Study and is used to investigate associations between diet and health and disease. Considerable work is being undertaken using the Raine Study dietary data, to better understand the relationships between dietary intake and the early development of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, bone disorders, and mental health disorders. Projects are also examining the social and environmental determinants of dietary intake to inform interventions for improving population dietary intakes.

SIG Leaders:

Dr Therese O’Sullivan, Edith Cowan University

Key findings over the last 30 years have included:

The contribution of the Diet Special Interest Group that has had the most significant impact over the past 30 years was the work related to infant feeding and childhood asthma. Using information collected from the Raine Study participants, researchers found that longer breastfeeding helps improve child development, and that in early adolescence, a better-quality breakfast was related to improved mental health. The researchers went on to show that a diet rich in B vitamins, essential fatty acids and healthier dietary patterns overall were related to improved mental health and less risk of developing heart, vessels and liver disease.

Longer breast feeding helps reduce the risk of childhood asthma and respiratory illness.  

  • Oddy WH, Holt PG, Sly PD, Read AW, Landau LI, Stanley FJ, Kendall G, Burton PR. The association between breastfeeding and asthma in six-year-old children: findings from a prospective birth cohort study. British Medical Journal 1999;319:815-819.
  • Oddy WH, Sly PD, de Klerk NH, Landau LI, Kendall GE, Holt PG, Stanley FJ. Breast feeding and respiratory morbidity in infancy: a birth cohort study. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2003;88(3):224-228.

Better quality breakfast is related to better mental health in early adolescence.  

  • O’Sullivan TA. Robinson M, Kendall GE., Miller M, Jacoby P, de Klerk NH. Silburn SR, Oddy WH. A good quality breakfast is associated with better mental health in adolescence. Public Health Nutrition 2009;12(2):249-258.

Lifestyle and family psycho-social environment were related to dietary patterns in Australian adolescents. 

  • Ambrosini GL, Oddy WH, Robinson M, O’Sullivan TA, Hands BP, De Klerk NH, Silburn SR, Zubrick SR, Kendall GE, Stanley FJ, Beilin LJ. Adolescent dietary patterns are associated with lifestyle and family psycho-social factors. Public Health Nutrition 2009;12(10):1807-15.

Dietary patterns are associated with factors that increase the risk of developing heart and vessels disease.  

  • Ambrosini G, Huang RC, Mori T, O’Sullivan TA, Beilin LJ, Oddy WH. Dietary patterns and markers for MetS in an adolescent cohort. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases 2010;20(4):274-83.

Dietary pattern at 14 years was associated with a risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease at 17 years.  

  • Oddy WH, Herbison CE, Jacoby P, Ambrosini GL, O’Sullivan TA, Ayonrinde OT, Olynyk JK, Black LJ, Beilin LJ, Mori TA, Hands BP, Adams LA. The Western dietary pattern is prospectively associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in adolescence. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2013;108(5):778-85.

Energy drink consumption was found to be associated with increased anxiety in males. 

  • Trapp GS, Allen K, O’Sullivan TA, Robinson M, Jacoby P, Oddy WH. Energy drink consumption is associated with anxiety in Australian young males. Depression and Anxiety 2014; 31(5):420-28.

A good quality diet in the early years may have a positive effect on academic achievement.

  • Nyaradi A, Li JH, Foster JK, Hickling S, Jacques A, O’Sullivan TA, Oddy WH. Good-quality diet in the early years may have a positive effect on academic achievement. Acta Paediatrica 2016;105(5):e209-18.

Longer breast feeding was associated with improved motor development into late childhood and adolescence.

  • Grace T, Oddy W, Bulsara M, Hands B. Breastfeeding and motor development: A longitudinal cohort study. Human Movement Science 2017;51:9-16.

A ‘Western’ dietary pattern was associated with an increased risk of mental health problems including depressive symptoms in adolescents, whereas a ‘Healthy’ dietary pattern appears to be protective.

  • Oddy WH, Allen KL, Trapp GSA, Ambrosini GL, Black LJ, Huang RC, Rzehak P, Runions KC, Pan F, Beilin LJ, Mori TA. Dietary patterns, body mass index and inflammation: pathways to depression and mental health problems in adolescents. Brain, Behaviour and Immunity 2018; 69:428-39.

A potential negative association between a “Western” dietary pattern and male reproductive health was detected and should be studied further.

  • Ognjenovic M, Ambrosini GL, Malacova E, Doherty DA, Oddy WH, Handelsman DJ, McLachlan R, Dickinson J, Hart RJ. Associations between major dietary patterns and testicular function in a population-based cohort of young men: results from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Andrology 2019;7(3):273-80.

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