Research Topic

Nutrition and Mental Health in the Aging population

About this Research Topic

Aging, encompassing physical, psychological, and social transitions, represents the accumulation of changes in human beings over time. The biological reasons of the aging process are still uncertain: the accumulation of DNA damage due to oxidative stressors and the programmed cell death related to DNA methylation (apoptosis) are claimed as the most likely determinants of the aging process. The brain shrinks with increasing age and changes are well-known both at molecular and at morphological levels. Aging is the greatest known risk factors for many human diseases and about two thirds of worldwide deaths are due to age-related causes.

Nutrition plays a fundamental role in human beings health and growth. Better nutrition is known to be related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease), and longevity. Today the world faces a double burden due to malnutrition as both under-nutrition and obesity are crucial health determinants (WHO, 2019). Beside the greater risk of infections, in the past few months undernourished people have also demonstrated to suffer from the more severe complications due to the SARS-CoV-2. At the same time, poor metabolic health, including obesity and diabetes, is strongly linked with worse Covid-19 outcomes, including risk of hospitalization and death.

Although mental health is important at every stage of life, it becomes even more crucial for frail elderly especially when affected by multimorbidity. In 1997 the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing estimated the total prevalence of common mental disorders to be about 6 per cent among those aged 65 years and over. An additional 6 per cent were affected by dementia that is a well-known major contributor to mental health problems, disability and poor quality of life for older adults. An European study published 20 years later (Sylke et al., 2017) demonstrated that one in two individuals aged 65-84 years had experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime, one in three was affected in the previous year and nearly one in four currently had a mental disorder. Due to such increase in prevalence elderly mental health has nowadays become a public health priority.

This Research Topic aims to disentangle the complex relationship among aging, nutrition and mental health by taking into account different perspectives. Its purpose is investigating the bidirectional association between nutrition and mental health in the life-span with special attention to late-life under the hypothesis of an interplay of conditions with a mutual influence. We aim to provide up-dated and high quality evidences on the interplay between nutrition and mental health in the aging population suggesting new research’s directions, effective preventive strategies and possible complementary therapies.

We also would like to answer some urgent research questions such as “Are older persons affected by dementia and co-morbidity (somatic and mental concurrent diseases) more likely to be undernourished and to have symptoms after SarS-CoV-2 infection?”, “Can nutrition changes benefit older adults mental health?” and “Does nutritional status have an impact on recovery from COVID-19 in elderly affected by dementia and/or other mental disorders?”

We welcome Original research articles (including in vivo/in vitro studies), Systematic review, Meta-analysis and Hypothesis papers on the following subjects:

• The relationship between nutrition and mental disorders in late-life;
• Nutrition and body weight as a risk factor for mental disorders in late-life;
• Poor nutrition as a negative prognostic factor for mental disorders in the elderly;
• Old age as a determinant of poor nutrition in people affected by metal disorder;
• Mental disorders as predisposing factor for poor nutrition in the elderly;
• Supplements for treating late-life depression;
• The relationship between Nutrition Literacy and Brain Health.


Keywords: nutrition, psychiatry, aging, lifespan, COVID-19, metabolism, diabetes, hospitalization


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Aging, encompassing physical, psychological, and social transitions, represents the accumulation of changes in human beings over time. The biological reasons of the aging process are still uncertain: the accumulation of DNA damage due to oxidative stressors and the programmed cell death related to DNA methylation (apoptosis) are claimed as the most likely determinants of the aging process. The brain shrinks with increasing age and changes are well-known both at molecular and at morphological levels. Aging is the greatest known risk factors for many human diseases and about two thirds of worldwide deaths are due to age-related causes.

Nutrition plays a fundamental role in human beings health and growth. Better nutrition is known to be related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease), and longevity. Today the world faces a double burden due to malnutrition as both under-nutrition and obesity are crucial health determinants (WHO, 2019). Beside the greater risk of infections, in the past few months undernourished people have also demonstrated to suffer from the more severe complications due to the SARS-CoV-2. At the same time, poor metabolic health, including obesity and diabetes, is strongly linked with worse Covid-19 outcomes, including risk of hospitalization and death.

Although mental health is important at every stage of life, it becomes even more crucial for frail elderly especially when affected by multimorbidity. In 1997 the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing estimated the total prevalence of common mental disorders to be about 6 per cent among those aged 65 years and over. An additional 6 per cent were affected by dementia that is a well-known major contributor to mental health problems, disability and poor quality of life for older adults. An European study published 20 years later (Sylke et al., 2017) demonstrated that one in two individuals aged 65-84 years had experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime, one in three was affected in the previous year and nearly one in four currently had a mental disorder. Due to such increase in prevalence elderly mental health has nowadays become a public health priority.

This Research Topic aims to disentangle the complex relationship among aging, nutrition and mental health by taking into account different perspectives. Its purpose is investigating the bidirectional association between nutrition and mental health in the life-span with special attention to late-life under the hypothesis of an interplay of conditions with a mutual influence. We aim to provide up-dated and high quality evidences on the interplay between nutrition and mental health in the aging population suggesting new research’s directions, effective preventive strategies and possible complementary therapies.

We also would like to answer some urgent research questions such as “Are older persons affected by dementia and co-morbidity (somatic and mental concurrent diseases) more likely to be undernourished and to have symptoms after SarS-CoV-2 infection?”, “Can nutrition changes benefit older adults mental health?” and “Does nutritional status have an impact on recovery from COVID-19 in elderly affected by dementia and/or other mental disorders?”

We welcome Original research articles (including in vivo/in vitro studies), Systematic review, Meta-analysis and Hypothesis papers on the following subjects:

• The relationship between nutrition and mental disorders in late-life;
• Nutrition and body weight as a risk factor for mental disorders in late-life;
• Poor nutrition as a negative prognostic factor for mental disorders in the elderly;
• Old age as a determinant of poor nutrition in people affected by metal disorder;
• Mental disorders as predisposing factor for poor nutrition in the elderly;
• Supplements for treating late-life depression;
• The relationship between Nutrition Literacy and Brain Health.


Keywords: nutrition, psychiatry, aging, lifespan, COVID-19, metabolism, diabetes, hospitalization


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

21 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

21 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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