14/08/2014 12:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Mums Who Eat Junk Food 'More Likely' To Have Badly Behaved Kids

Mums who eat junk food 'more likely' to have badly behaved kids

A study has found that mums-to-be who scoff junk food are 'more likely to have badly behaved children'.

The research - undertaken by Deakin University in Melbourne - is the first to make a link between nutrition in the womb and its effects on a child's mental as well as physical health.

The Mail reports that the study shows that mothers who 'give into junk food cravings' could leave their children with mental health problems.

The report's authors looked at more than 23,000 mothers and children in the ongoing Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and examined the long-term mental health risks to children from maternal diet.

"Early life nutrition, including the nutrition received while the child is in utero, is related to physical health outcomes in children - their risk for later heart disease or diabetes for example," said Felice Jacka, the lead researcher. "But this is the first study indicating diet is also important to mental health outcomes in children."

She said it was 'now more clear than ever' that diet matters to mental health right across the age spectrum.

For the study, mums were asked to detail their diet during pregnancy and their children's diets at 18 months and three years.

Throughout the survey, the children's symptoms of depression, anxiety, conduct disorder and ADHD were also recorded at 18 months, three years and five years of age.

Socioeconomic factors and the mental health of parents were not included in the study, so that a clearer link could be determined between diet and mental health.

Professor Jacka says that in light of her findings, policy makers must take action.

"There is an urgent need for governments everywhere to take note of the evidence and amend food policy," she said. "The shift to more high-energy, low nutrition foods developed and marketed by the processed food industry, have led to a massive increase in obesity-related illnesses everywhere."

"They must restrict the marketing and availability of unhealthy food products to the community," she added.